Bloomington / Normal, IL

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

The Opportunity of Community


By Russell Schwartz, RN, LNHA, Meadows at Mercy Creek

A teenager was enjoying an Independence Day celebration with residents of Meadows at Mercy Creek assisted living and exclaimed, “You are so lucky to live here!” Someone asked the young man why he felt that way. He replied, “Because you can always be with other people; there is always someone around.” The residents with whom he had been speaking agreed — one of the blessings of assisted living is the opportunity to engage in the elements of a community.

We hear a funny joke, catch a big fish, or behold a beautiful sunset: The joy of these moments is heightened when we experience them with others, and it is renewed as we talk about them. Companionship is sharing moments together and sharing one another’s moments. We have an opportunity to be intentional about companionship and combating loneliness, both in ourselves and our neighbors, by:

  • Inviting people to join us in our daily activities
  • Accepting invitations from others
  • Asking others to tell us about their day or special memories
  • Actively listening and asking questions

Unfortunately, some moments in our lives are not pleasant. In these times we need more than just companionship; we need someone willing to be inconvenienced (perhaps even suffer some discomfort or frustration) to share in our troubles and help us to be victorious over difficult circumstances. Consider, as one example, the opportunity of being a friend to a person affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia by:

  • Refusing to allow your friend to be either intentionally or unintentionally excluded from group conversations.
  • Making the effort to be aware of whether or not your friend understands and is following a conversation, then slowing down the discussion and simplifying your communication so it can be understood.
  • Drawing your friend into a group’s conversation by asking her questions, then being willing to take the discussion in a new direction if your friend’s response doesn’t connect with the previous topic.

Engaging in the opportunity of true friendship isn’t always easy, but it brings the rewards of deeper relationships, purpose, and meaningful service.

In a community, we can celebrate our uniqueness as we bless others through our talents, hobbies, and interests. Assisted living is fun — especially when residents express themselves! Sewing, painting, writing articles and poetry, leading karaoke, playing musical instruments, coordinating or participating in sporting events, sharing history: These are just some of the ways I’ve witnessed residents revealing their distinctive personalities while engaging in enjoyable activities and benefiting others.

Hospitality is the art and service of making others feel welcome, comfortable, and connected with other members of the community. Games, dinners, outings, etc. are not only fun, they are also opportunities to help timid persons establish relationships and develop a sense of belonging to the group.

Regardless of where we live, a life filled with purpose and profound relationships awaits those who choose to step out of their comfort zones and seize the opportunities of community.

For more information about senior living, you may contact Holly Hall at Meadows at Mercy Creek, 309-268-1501. Meadows at Mercy Creek is located at 1501 Mercy Creek Drive in Normal (near the intersection of Raab Road and Towanda-Barnes Road). Meadows at Mercy Creek offers apartment homes with a full array of services and amenities and independent living villa homes.