According to the American Holistic Health Association, holistic health is an approach to life that emphasizes the connection of the mind, body and spirit, with the goal of having everything functioning at its very best so you achieve maximum well-being. A key component to a holistic approach is taking responsibility for your well-being and making everyday choices that put you in charge of your health.
It’s less about illness and symptoms, and more about integrating healthy practices into the fabric of your everyday life. This kind of approach can be key to longevity, as well as maintaining independence and overall wellness as you age.
Mind, Body, Spirit
Research continues to show physical activity, mental stimulation and social connections reduce risks of disease and depression, and can help you live longer. A National Institute on Aging report found that older adults experience the highest levels of well-being when they are socializing, working or volunteering, and exercising.
Put them all together in a holistic way and it can lead to a healthier, happier life. What does that look like?
- Mind your brain: Doing challenging activities such as learning a new skill can improve memory function and help your brain become more adaptable in some functions. This can help compensate for age-related changes in the brain.
- Bodies in motion: Kelli Huggins, Well4Life Wellness Coordinator and licensed recreational therapy assistant at Grace Ridge Retirement Community, says exercise can give you the strength to keep doing activities that you love. Strength exercises in particular let your body move better, which makes it easier to climb stairs or pick up your groceries.
- Spirited living: Finding purpose, having a healthy emotional life and maintaining social connections not only make life more enjoyable, they make it healthier. Religious or spiritual activity is associated with lower rates of hypertension and less pain from illness. And an active social life reduces depression and can help extend life.
What You Can Do Every Day
Your best chance of successfully incorporating wellness into your routine is to start small. Here are a few starter ideas:
- Sign up to volunteer where you can use your experience or expertise to help others.
- Take a class at a local arts center or community college.
- Go for a walk, try a fitness or tai chi class, or use soup cans as hand weights to build strength.
- Join a book club, or just talk about your favorite book with a friend over coffee.
Wellness Programs at Senior Living Communities
One reason many people are attracted to senior living communities today is the focus on holistic wellness. With programs such as Life360®, Masterpiece Living®, Ageless Grace® and many others, residents find it easy to be proactive about their health and well-being. In fact, a 2017 report from the International Council on Active Aging found that in Life Plan Communities with a wellness program, 91% of residents say their health and wellness is good, very good or excellent.
Nutritious meals in the dining rooms, and on-site fitness centers with classes, pools, and even personal trainers facilitate caring for your body. Community programs, resident clubs and activities help you learn, expand your horizons and build relationships with others. And many communities have religious services, Bible studies, meditation classes, support groups or on-site counselors to help you stay spiritually connected and emotionally healthy.
Your well-being and your health have a lot to do with the choices you make. The good news is that it’s never too late to start making better choices for a better life. Use our community locator tool to find a senior living community near you.
Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.
American Holistic Health Association
Research on Health and Well-Being Aims to Improve Quality of Life in Later Years. Today’s Research on Aging. No. 31, June 2015.
Cognitive Health in Older Adults, National Institute on Aging.
Staying Active: Why Helping the Older Adults in your Life Exercise is the Best Care You Can Provide. The Upside to Aging, November 2017.
Spirituality and Aging. Medscape, 2010.
The Role of Social Networks in Adult Health. Health Psychology, 2014.
ICAA/ProMatura Wellness Benchmarks: The National Benchmarks Report, 2017