← Back to Blog

Better Together: Staying Connected Is Good For Your Health

Buddy the Dog and owner Jeff Gochoco visit Sierra Winds senior living community in Peoria, AZ

Bonding With Buddy

Today’s the day that Buddy the Dog visits Sierra Winds in Peoria, AZ.— it’s a different day every week — but Buddy’s owner Jeff Gochoco, Director of Marketing and Sales, is good about telling all the residents to be ready for their favorite Golden Retriever. Let’s just say: Staying connected is good for your health.

Once Jeff and Buddy arrive on campus, there’s a quick stop at Jeff’s office where Buddy gingerly eyes his favorite cookie jar, knowing that he’ll soon hit the jackpot! Next, he and Jeff are off to the front lobby where Buddy has his temperature checked and gets his bandana mouth covering. (“So he doesn’t feel left out,” says Jeff.) Then the schmoozing, petting and loving begins between Buddy and all of his Sierra Winds friends. It’s a delightful sight that makes everyone feel good.

Resident Anne Paull is one of Buddy’s best pals and always looks forward to his visit. “Buddy is such a sweet dog,” Anne says. “He’s friends with everyone. The perfect temperament—very calm, greets everyone with a smile, and loves to let anyone pet him.” Buddy is a film star, too, as you’ll see in the attached video. This loveable Golden Retriever works hard to stay connected with all his friends at Sierra Winds, and everyone’s emotional health is better for it.

A Canine Connection

One of our recent blogs points out that human beings are “social animals” — we naturally seek the companionship of others as part of our well-being. (There’s a little bit of “Buddy” in all of us!) When companionship is missing, loneliness begins to affect the way we feel, both emotionally and physically.

In fact, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), research has linked isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. (The NIA is a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life.)

In their recent article on social isolation and loneliness, the NIA explains that, in the normal course of life, older adults find themselves alone more often than when they were younger. Compelling data in this report supports the idea that social isolation and loneliness do not always go together. It’s a worthwhile read if you’re interested in additional reliable, helpful information on the subject.

But now, let’s investigate a powerful antidote for loneliness — getting connected with others and building friendships. Residents of Sierra Winds are ALL-IN when it comes to this philosophy.

An All-In Approach To Wellness

Sierra Winds residents know that wellness is so much more than just physical health. They believe in a holistic approach to well-being that strengthens independence and supports an effective shield against loneliness, too. Guided by the all-encompassing 8 Dimensions of Wellness, Sierra Winds residents focus on making healthy decisions every day by living life to its fullest — physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally, environmentally, vocationally, spiritually, and healthfully.

Sierra Winds is known particularly for being a friendly and welcoming community — and it’s easy to see why. Residents here have the opportunity to lead an active, fulfilling, and connected lifestyle through social, emotional, and spiritual interactions with neighbors, friends, and family.

Having Fun While Taking A Time-Out

It’s impossible during these challenging times to talk about isolation without discussing the elephant in the room — the SOCIAL PAUSE we’re all experiencing due to COVID-19 directives. Masks, hand-washing, disinfecting, social distancing, and self-isolation are all helping keep everyone well. They do make it difficult to stay connected with friends and neighbors, however!

Residents and staff of Sierra Winds are taking these directives seriously and are certainly compliant. They’re finding that creativity is playing a significant role within the community when it comes to combatting isolation and loneliness. Take a look at the Sierra Winds Facebook page to experience the inventive and fun ways everyone is still connecting — safely — throughout the community.

Besides Bonding with Buddy, residents are communicating with family, friends, and neighbors through more regular phone calls and emails. Becoming more “techie” than they ever thought possible, residents are venturing out and trying new technology like FaceTime, social media, and ZOOM.

Formal events have been limited, but festive socializing at a distance in the form of birthday serenades, a huge courtyard 100th birthday bash, a When Life Hands You Lemons celebration and a special Spirit Week salute to spring sports put on hold helped all residents and staff maintain a healthy level of interaction.

Doorway Easter decorations were fabulous in April — a wonderful, welcoming greeting for a Masked Easter Bunny! Residents also exercised creative talents by making face masks for use throughout the community. Individual physical exercise is still intact, as well, as residents stretch their legs by strolling the community’s beautiful grounds and playing balloon volleyball while social distancing, of course.

“We’re all in this together,” says Dr. Roger Landry, in his well-attended regular podcast with Teresa Amaral Beshwate and Danielle Palli. Their recent podcast on gratitude emphasized the health benefits we all should be grateful for instead of what we might have lost these days. “Be thankful for those we do have and for how our relationships keep us connected. Hold your friends close in your heart,” he says.

During This PAUSE…

Come take a look at Sierra Winds — VIRTUALLY! While other aspects of daily life may be in a bit of a holding pattern, the Sierra Winds lifestyle is as vibrant as ever. The community team is offering virtual visits and video tours on a daily basis. Take the time to learn about the unique community culture — and why residents and Buddy the dog find it amazing! Call (623) 738-2962 or contact us online.