Spring Newsletter - The Positive Power of Connection

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Rydal Park - Spring 1

What’s your idea of a social network? Instagram and Twitter? The watercooler gang at work? Travel groups and book clubs? From Facebook to the family dinner table, most everyone is part of a network — often more than one — that keeps them connected to others.

One of Rydal Park resident Dorothy Wyszynski’s original social networks is her graduating class from Philadelphia’s Nazareth Academy. “I still know where a third of my classmates are,” she says. “I’m in charge of the class mailing list, so that helps,” she adds with a smile.

“Life at Rydal Park offers the perfect combination of independence and interaction.” — Dorothy Wyszynski, Resident

For Dorothy, the best way to keep in touch with her social network is in person. “I lived in an area where neighbors were active in the life of the community,” she says. “That’s why I chose Rydal Park.” It’s just the right mix of autonomy and connection, according to Dorothy. “I can enjoy the solitude of my place and the campus,” she says, “and then walk out to enjoy the neighborhood, the shops, the bank and the restaurants I like.”

Having recently retired as administrator at Kimmel Cancer Center, she has discovered connections at Rydal Park — people she worked closely with at Jefferson University Hospital.

One of those colleagues, Linda Mitchell, moved to Rydal Park in 2017 and continues to work part-time at Jefferson, teaching patient interaction skills. “Rydal Park is close,” she says, “so it’s easy to keep working at Jefferson, which allows me to stay close to my second family.” Some of Linda’s Jefferson connections have also found their way to Rydal Park, and she enjoys having them in her life. Linda also appreciates Rydal Park’s close connections to Penn Medicine and Jefferson University systems.

She has been able to keep seeing her physicians in the same networks. For Norman and Nancy Loev, the move to Rydal Park continues the level of social engagement they always enjoyed on Kingsley Road in Rydal. “The families in our neighborhood shared many experiences over the years — raising kids and that kind of thing,” Nancy says. “We moved here to continue that connection to a community of our peers.”

While they’ve changed their address to Rydal Park, the Loevs haven’t had to change their favorite routines: going to the local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, favorite restaurants and Abington Library. “It’s been seamless,” Nancy says.

A retired attorney, Norman continues to consult on legal matters and captains a boat in East Coast waters, from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic. He also intends to get back to his love of painting. Nancy, meanwhile, continues her life’s work as a sculptor and woodcarver, with more than 50 years of experience. Having studied at Cheltenham Art Center, she had her own studio in Manayunk and continues hand-carving art pieces in zebrawood, mahogany and walnut.

Having lived and worked in the Rydal area nearly all of their adult lives, the Loevs have run into a number of friends and acquaintances at Rydal Park. “We’ve enjoyed re-connecting with people we know from the area,” Norman says, “as well as forming new ties.“

“For years, we lived among neighbors and families going through similar life events. We came to Rydal Park for that same kind of social dynamic.” — Nancy Loev, Resident

In the four years since moving to Rydal Park, resident Barbara Evans has continued her engagement with longstanding social networks, including her group of neighborhood friends from Elkins Park. “We still get together for holidays like Memorial Day, Saint Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July,” she says. In addition, she continues to meet regularly with fellow retired nurses, Cheltenham Seniors and a group that attends the Philly POPS every month. Still, she’s made plenty of new friends at Rydal Park, especially in her role as president of the Resident Association. “If I don’t recognize you, I’m going to introduce myself and find out who you are!” she says with a laugh.

"There are many familiar faces here, but we also enjoy meeting new people and making new connections.” — Norman Loev, Resident

Barbara also points out the importance of reaching out, whether to old friends or new acquaintances. “It takes time to build relationships, but it’s important to be in touch with people who know you — who ask how you’re doing and care. And it goes both ways, too.”

A University of Michigan study showed that social relationships can have powerful benefits for physical and mental health.


It turns out that these intuitive observations about friends and relationships are increasingly confirmed by science. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that social relationships “have as much impact on physical health as blood pressure, smoking [and] physical activity.”1 Taking it a step further, it could be that, in the case of social networks, more is better. Research has also shown that “identification with social groups is positively associated with adult mental well-being, with multiple group identifications being particularly beneficial.”2

Linda puts it in plainer language: The importance of maintaining your social networks, she says, is about connecting with different perspectives. “You don’t always have all the answers yourself,” she says. Her fellow Jefferson colleague, Dorothy, echoes that thought: “Your social network enhances your well-being,” she says. “You discover things in common and engage with new ideas. And you can reach out for support when you need it.”


1. https://www.asaging.org/blog/what-social-relationships-can-do-health
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26163720


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