Camaraderie reduces health risks associated with social isolation, yet stereotypes and myths often keep older Americans aging in place and alone.
The share of adults who live alone has doubled over the past 50 years despite a growing medical consensus that spending too much time alone can increase cognitive and other health risks. Today, more than one in four Americans 60 or above are living alone.
Stereotypes associated with aging contribute to this trend. Even in later life, these biases can keep people alone in their family home and missing out on new friendships and the life-extending health benefits that come from frequent social interaction. Wayne Panchesson, executive director of The Meadows of Napa Valley, a nonprofit retirement community located in the City of Napa, wants to debunk those myths and stereotypes and help Napa Valley’s residents over 60 live their best lives.
“We attract accomplished people who are ready to write the next chapter of their lives and they have a lot to share,” says Panchesson. “We really live life here. People are often surprised to learn how active and accomplished our residents are. They like the social connections and full agenda of activities we offer as well as the convenient resort-style amenities. They are still fully independent and footloose to pursue travel or spontaneous local adventures whenever they choose.”
Panchesson has led The Meadows for 20 years and says that deep and meaningful social connections can be forged in later life and create a sense of belonging and fulfillment, which are all markers of good health at any age or stage of life.
“You’re moving into a community setting, which is different than being in your own single family detached home,” says Frank Ascatigno, who moved to The Meadows with his wife Marie in 2019 from Concord, Calif. Sometimes people move to The Meadows after the loss of their life partner or when one spouse begins to need more care. These new residents who are struggling emotionally often find that being surrounded by others, making new friendships and keeping busy with activities restores a more positive outlook about the future.
According to Panchesson, nearly anything that residents wish to engage in or learn can be available at The Meadows from woodworking to wine tasting, Tai Chi to bocce ball. In addition, residents are often the ones teaching the classes or leading the lectures. Residents enjoy a host of amenities including exceptional culinary program, wine room, indoor pool and spa, fitness center, yoga studio, outdoor bocce court, expansive patio, meeting rooms, library and social clubs plus a host of on-site activities and convenient concierge services.
Despite all its benefits, Panchesson explains that many older Napans dismiss the idea of downsizing from their single-family home and moving into a life plan community like The Meadows.
“Sometimes people just get overwhelmed by the concept of downsizing after decades of accumulating memories and belongings, but psychological barriers and stereotypes about aging contribute too. The irony of the situation is that living in isolation speeds a person’s decline, while living in a community boosts their health.”
As a continuing care retirement community, The Meadows offers its residents a fulfilling, carefree retirement lifestyle with the peace of mind that their future healthcare needs will be met.
“If you didn’t live here during these times, you would be quite isolated in your own home,” says Suzanne Moullen, who lives at The Meadows with her husband Fred and moved from Piedmont, Calif. in 2019.
The Meadows is owned by the Odd Fellows Home of California sponsored by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, one of the oldest Fraternal Orders in the world with a long tradition of serving others. As part of its mission, the IOOF places a high value on friendship and community. It also ensures that The Meadows includes apartments available for rental. “High cost is another myth,” adds Panchesson. “As a nonprofit, we have a mix of housing options and models, including some apartments that are surprisingly attainable.”
About The Meadows of Napa Valley
The Meadows of Napa Valley represents the best of wine country’s retirement lifestyle. Its 20-acre resort-like campus overlook the valley’s famous rolling hills and open spaces about 10 minutes south of downtown Napa. Residents enjoy an amenity-rich community that’s within easy reach of the valley’s many recreational and cultural assets. The Meadows is home to a vibrant, engaged community of active, accomplished people who are ready to write the next chapter of their interesting lives. They enjoy The Meadows’ exceptional culinary program, wine room, indoor pool and spa, fitness center, yoga studio, outdoor bocce court, expansive patio, meeting rooms, library and social clubs plus a host of on-site activities and convenient concierge services. The Meadows is owned by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs (IOOF), one of the oldest Fraternal Orders in the world with a long tradition of serving others. Since 1999, The Meadows has been under the executive management of PRS Management, a subsidiary of Pacific Retirement Services, a progressive, non-profit retirement living provider with a portfolio of 12 life plan communities. To learn more, visit