Why Consider a Faith-Based Community?
The primary factors most families consider in their search for the right senior living community can include size, location, range of amenities, levels of living available and, of course, the costs associated with living there. But what about faith and spirituality? Living in a faith-based retirement community offers potential benefits from the standpoint of spirituality as well as one’s emotional health and well-being. The advantages of comfort, familiarity, support, social connection, and inner peace are generally part of the culture of communities that follow faith-based values — even if the community serves and accepts people of all religions or no religion at all. If you haven’t considered a religious retirement community in your search for yourself or a loved one, you may wish to explore this option.
For people of all faiths, or none at all
Faith and spirituality are essential in the lives of many in this country, especially older adults. The question, “How important is my faith to choosing where and with whom I live?” should be given careful thought before deciding on a senior living community. There are faith-based communities built on core beliefs and values from a number of Judeo-Christian religions — Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Jewish, Presbyterian. Generally, these senior living communities are not-for-profit organizations that welcome people of all faiths. Whether or not you share the denominational beliefs of the sponsor religion, living in a retirement community affords the opportunity to lead a more spiritually vibrant retirement.
Here are some key advantages:
Support during a major life transition
Moving to a retirement community represents a period of significant change. Some people struggle with this more than others, facing difficult emotions such as sadness, confusion and fear. Living in a faith-based assisted living community creates an environment of familiar elements and rituals where one’s beliefs are celebrated. Residents find comfort and security in their faith. Many of these retirement communities have on-site chapels , Bible studies, Catholic Mass, nondenominational services, prayer meetings and discussion groups – all within the community. Residents have on-site access to spiritual guidance and support, which is especially valuable for those with mobility issues who can no longer easily travel to a place of worship.
Being with others of shared values and beliefs
Worshiping and sharing traditions with those of the same faith creates feelings of spiritual belonging. These retirement communities help older adults form meaningful connections in a welcoming, compassionate environment. And though many retirement communities provide worship services and observe religious holiday celebrations, faith-based communities place faith at the core of daily life. Faith influences every decision the community makes, and affects how residents connect and interact with one another. Sharing values such as joy, compassion, stewardship and connection become part of community culture. Residents often experience deeper, more nourishing relationships with associates and fellow Residents.
Feelings of inclusion and belonging
When seniors are uprooted from the home they’ve known for many years, they can easily feel disconnected from the people and surroundings they love. Faith-based communities help foster a sense of meaningful connection and belonging that’s vital to one’s emotional well-being and overall health. This level of acceptance can be the difference between feeling lost and alone, or part of a vibrant community where neighbors look out for each other. Even those who don’t practice or identify with a particular faith will still appreciate the benefits of living in a caring, welcoming, accepting community.
Opportunities to engage
When you live in a religious community, you’ll likely have the opportunity for active participation in worship services, prayer groups, holiday celebrations and more. In many communities of faith, residents are encouraged to participate through teaching, group discussions, engaging in Bible studies, directing or singing in a choir, playing a musical instrument, working with audio/video equipment, escorting residents to activities and more. Many of these communities have chaplains or other clergy members on staff to assist and provide counseling. And as stated, faith-based retirement living isn’t just for those with religious backgrounds.
The support of a faith-based mission
Those who live in these communities often say they equate their community’s faith-based mission with the integrity and values that fit their lifestyle. These senior living communities are often operated by nonprofit organizations with defined values and standards for treating associates and Residents. Rather than seeing revenue as the prime motivation, nonprofit communities are driven by an overall mission to care for Residents. Knowing the mission and morals of each community can help you and your loved ones choose one that matches your own.
The social aspects of religious senior living communities
For many older adults, knowing they’ll be surrounded by like-minded people who share similar values and beliefs helps them feel part of a spiritual community. The natural friendships and social connections that develop help prevent loneliness and isolation. Religious holiday celebrations become community events. And in addition to standard community amenities, a faith-based community may offer cultural and religious activities – and even dining options – that have become part of many Residents’ personal history. Sharing spiritual fellowship also provides a strong sense of purpose and belonging, which can aid one’s overall health.
An all-inclusive atmosphere
While faith-based retirement communities are often affiliated with Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian or Jewish religions, you won’t necessarily need to share a particular faith to join the community. In fact, many faith-based communities welcome differing points of view that help Residents and associates learn from one another and share their experiences. Even agnostics and atheists are welcomed into most religious type retirement communities without pressure to change their perspective. Faith is viewed not as a set of rules to abide by, but as a way of life that includes compassion for others, connection with community, and a way to aspire to something greater than yourself.
Choosing a community rooted in Catholic values
For seniors who’ve spent their lives loving and practicing the Catholic faith, choosing a Catholic community will feel like familiar territory. They immediately become part of a sustaining, reassuring cohort who share the history, ritual and memories of growing up in the Catholic faith. The access to sacraments and services afforded to these Residents is an important consideration to aging Catholics and their families. Many Catholic communities embrace the mission to provide access to low-income seniors who wouldn’t otherwise be able to live in such a community. Catholic-based communities have a reputation for high-quality services and are often in high demand.
The faith-filled environment of Santa Marta
Santa Marta is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Our community culture is, indeed, faith-based in accordance with Catholic values. We’re guided by Catholic principles and we welcome people from all beliefs and faith traditions, including those who don’t follow a particular spiritual path. There are many ways to express your spirituality at Santa Marta, including:
- Daily Mass
- Nondenominational services in our chapel
- Spiritual discussion groups
- Bible studies
- Gospel & spiritual music concerts
- Chaplain available
- Catholic Saturday worship
- Rosary prayer services