Aging and wellness seems to be on all of our minds lately, not just the physical aspect, but the mental and emotional ways to be well, too. While wellbeing is important in all stages of life, the idea of increasing wellness as we age is receiving more attention.
“We know it’s important to provide our residents with more than services and a place to live and at our senior living communities,” says Maryanne Wallace, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Lutheran Senior Services (LSS). “We’re focused on caring for the whole person and giving our residents opportunities to reach their full potential.”
What is Wellness?
The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. This is done by addressing wellness in all its forms. The six dimensions of wellness are physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and occupational.
Physical wellness is the one people are most familiar with – it’s about exercising and eating healthy foods. Social wellness is being part of a community and interacting with others, while intellectual wellness is continuing to learn and to be stimulated by creative endeavors.
“Surrounding yourself with options to be part of a community and engage in activities that stimulate your curiosity is important, especially as you enter your older years. That is when these opportunities need to be sought out more intentionally,” adds Wallace. “Our Lutheran Senior Services communities organize a wide variety of optional events and activities from social hours to educational lectures, to give residents the opportunity to be part of the community if they want to. In fact, we’ve had experiences where residents, who may have been isolated when living alone, have had health improvements after moving in because of the socialization our communities offer.”
Wellness includes a spiritual dimension as well, reminding us that it’s important to continue to look for deeper meaning in our lives. Emotional wellness is being aware of and accepting your feelings and generally feeling positive about your life. Occupational wellness is finding personal satisfaction and enrichment through your work or volunteer opportunities.
“By being part of a community, people can find many ways to contribute to society using their gifts and talents,” says Wallace. “For example, we have volunteers within our community and many altruistic activities that are initiated by the residents themselves. We also have organized Bible study, prayer groups, and religious services throughout the week.”
What Does Wellness Mean for Aging?
With wellness becoming a big part of daily discussion, more senior living communities are dedicating spaces to its pursuit. These areas may include a gym, community center, and other gathering spaces.
“Continuously improving the amenities we offer to help our residents live their lives to the fullest is so important to us,” says Wallace. “Many of our communities include wellness centers with ample space for expanded wellness programming.”
The LSS mission builds the framework for older adults to maximize their potential physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and spiritually, just like the dimensions of wellness. This focus on wellness goes hand-in-hand with the mission of LSS: Older Adults Living Life to the Fullest (based on John 10:10). For more information on how we encourage wellness throughout aging,