Active Aging week is observed the first full week of October and was initiated by the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) in 2003 to bring awareness and encourage older adults to pursue wellness activities in a safe, encouraging and supported environment and promote the benefits of an active lifestyle.
People tend to assume active aging means being physically active. While physical wellness is an important component of a healthy lifestyle – and supported at Carroll Lutheran Village with a full-service gym, heated saline pool and group exercise classes – active aging really focuses on wellness for the whole person.
Active aging (i.e. wellness) is a blend of the physical body and intellectual, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social needs, also known as dimensions, of a person. I’ll expand on these later dimensions with some examples from CLV, which I hope provides some ideas and inspiration towards your pursuit of active aging.
Our Flourish lifelong learning program focuses primarily on the intellectual dimension of wellness. We invite college professors and other experts from the workforce to share their knowledge and experience with courses such as Tech Soup, Art History and the Great Battles of the Civil War. Flourish also provides residents an opportunity to fulfill emotional needs through Zentangle, Mindfulness Meditation and Chair Yoga.
Though it may be challenging to take an in-person class, due to COVID-19, there are opportunities for online learning, mediation and yoga from colleges, social media videos and apps.
Volunteering is great at supporting the giving and receiving aspect of the vocational dimension. Groups of our residents participate in Project Linus and Threads of Compassion, which provides hand knitted blankets or scarves to those experiencing physical or emotional distress. Residents also spend time outside of CLV reading to daycare children, serving food at the local cold weather shelter and working at Carroll Hospital’s reception desk.
Consider your personal interests and look for opportunities that allow you to give and receive through meaningful activities, whether that be through volunteering or a paid position.
The spiritual life program at CLV is robust, and because the spiritual dimension is very individualized and tends to mean different things to different people, we provide a variety of options for residents to explore their spiritual interests and needs.
With full and part-time chaplains on staff, weekly non-denominational worship services, bible studies and a successful Stephen Ministry program are offered. We also offer simple less formalized options like seating areas that overlook the picturesque views that surround our community and a labyrinth – both providing opportunities for residents to practice mindfulness.
Explore outlets that feed your spiritual needs, whether they involve simple or formal approaches.
Environmental wellness is at the forefront of the world right now. Residents at CLV remain committed to keeping the Earth beautiful and healthy for future generations. Through adopt-a-road programs, campus clean-up days and multiple community garden areas, residents take care of the world around them, making not only CLV, but our greater community, a better place.
Consider how you are currently supporting your environmental wellness interests. If you feel you could do more, look into opportunities that could help you do that. If you enjoy gardening, consider planting a vegetable garden, to help source your own food, or plants that promote the ecosystem.
We provide extensive opportunities to support the social wellness needs of our residents including being part of our Resident’s Association Council and various resident clubs and committees; traveling on bus trips to points of interests, enjoying live entertainment and participating in themed dining experiences, just to name a few!
If you’re looking to build on your social network, think about your interests and look for groups that involve those interests. You just might meet new friends who share your interests too!
The benefits of becoming, and remaining, active throughout life are numerous. From decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and depression, to increased social connectedness and growth of brain cells. No matter what age you are, you can start aging actively now! Grab a friend and go for a walk, mentor a teenager in your community, volunteer at a local library, help clean-up your city park, follow your passion, whatever it may be, and experience the benefits of active aging.
Jessica Andrews is the director of resident life at Carroll Lutheran Village. She holds a master’s degree in gerontology and bachelor’s degree in exercise science and physical education. She started with CLV in 2008 as the fitness and aquatics instructor and then worked as the resident life coordinator until she was promoted to her current position.