With summer on its way, there’s a sense of renewal and opportunity; it’s a great time to make a fresh start! Click above for tips on selling your home.
What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.
But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.
It’s called active aging, a philosophy that attempts to move the mindset of what is considered health and well-being into an entire spectrum of categories that encompass components such as emotional and spiritual wellness, as well as the traditional physical aspects of health.
The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) defines active aging as promoting the vision of all individuals — regardless of age, socioeconomic status or health — fully engaging in life within seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual/cognitive, physical, professional/vocational, social and spiritual.
By expanding what we consider to be “healthy” and incorporating each dimension into our lives, we can cultivate a more well-rounded view of what constitutes a healthy and happy life.
Let’s take a closer look at each active aging dimension of wellness and how each might point to steps we can take to improve our own quality of life and that of those around us.
Mental and emotional health is one of the pillars of happiness. Focusing on life’s positives (even embracing nostalgia), spending quality time with friends and family, and taking time for self-expression are ways to strengthen this dimension. Try eating meals with companions to give yourself the opportunity to talk about your day, tell stories and, of course, laugh.
Your environment isn’t just the four walls around you, but the world that you and your loved ones inhabit. Allow sufficient time to wander in nature, explore its beauty and taste everything life has to offer.
A sharp mind is a happy mind. Engaging in creative pursuits is a proven method for keeping the mind alert. Read, write, journal, solve crosswords and puzzles, or even pick up a new pursuit like drawing or painting.
Physical well-being is about taking care of your body and making positive lifestyle choices. That means physical activity and exercise, as well as smart and healthy eating habits. Choose nutritious, delicious foods (MemoryMeals® makes that an easy call), make sure you get adequate sleep, and eliminate unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Participating in work (paid or unpaid) not only contributes a service to society, but can boost one’s sense of self-worth by helping others and increasing social interaction. Older adults and seniors still have a lot to contribute as mentors, teachers and volunteers.
Sometimes we all get tired of the rest of the world. But social isolation is ultimately unhealthy. So carve out sufficient time with friends and family for valuable emotional support. Social well-being can also be found through joining clubs and partaking in group activities.
There is evidence that religious belief is associated with longer life and better physical and mental health. This could be due to higher rates of social and emotional engagement among people of faith, but the fact remains that a spiritual component — the search for purpose and meaning — is an important dimension of active aging. That can take the form of organized religion or less dogmatic spiritual pursuits, such as yoga, meditation or simply communing with nature.
Putting It All Together
By broadening the definition of health and wellness, the active aging concept presents interesting new paths in the ways we will build full lives for a growing population of older Americans. Since food can be an important component in a number of the lifestyle areas identified in active aging, MemoryMeals® promises to play a major part in helping to enhance the lives of seniors at meal time and beyond.
The below article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.
Recently I had the chance to speak with a couple that lives in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC or “life plan community”) in Virginia. Let’s call them Joe and Becky. They have lived in the CCRC for about three years and said they couldn’t be happier. One thing that has really stood out to them since moving, they explained, was the level of service provided by the staff, which they described as “exceptional.” As we talked more, I asked about their experience in making the move and how they managed to deal with all their “stuff.”
Indeed, dealing with years of accumulated belongings can be daunting. Of course, somebody eventually has to deal with all that stuff, and it doesn’t get any easier as we get older. Click above for some ways that can help make the experience more, dare I say, fun.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
- Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
- Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination
Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:
- Unplanned weight loss
- Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
- Swallowing dysfunction
- Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)
Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.
When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?
- Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
- Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
- Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
- Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.
Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.
In Columbus, and the surrounding central Ohio region, shopping for a life plan retirement community (also referred to as a CCRC or continuing care retirement community) requires a lot of research, and your final decision will be based on many factors–services, location, amenities, reputation, and more–though price is usually one of the most heavily weighted.
Click above to read more.
“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”
As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!
Click above to read tip # 11 of 50 –The Longevity Project and Conscientiousness!
The vast majority of Continuing Care Retirement Communities require an entry fee. Naturally, people often ask, “What is the purpose of the entry fee?” Before answering this question it is helpful to understand the history of entry fees.
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An active, healthy lifestyle can help protect your mind and body from disease and injury—which often leads to a need for long-term care. However, there are no guarantees in life and the question of whether—and how long—you or your spouse may need care remains unknown.
Click above to learn how CCRCs can help couples stay together as they age.
The Brain Fit Book Club at Wesley Glen really enjoyed reading (and discussing, over a course of several months) Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. The book explores how we as humans are originally hardwired for negativity, not positivity. Why?
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