Regardless of their background, age or medical history, most seniors are dealing with the same wellness issues that impact their well-being, including depression, reduced mobility, lack of independence, safety concerns, and age-specific health issues.
Those who strive to improve their quality of life, reduce their dependency on others, and benefit from the best care tailored to their unique medical and non-medical needs usually thrive in senior living communities that have embraced whole-person well-being programs to restore the balance of their clients and improve all the aspects of their daily lives.
Understanding the Particularities of the Whole-Person Wellness Concept
The Whole-Person Wellness concept is geared towards a few basic principles created to help individuals maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, and achieve and preserve a higher quality of life. Based on the fact that all people are complex, multidimensional creatures, whole-person wellness relies on a model created by Jan Montague, and incorporates six basic wellness dimensions: emotional wellness, intellectual wellness, physical wellness, social wellness, spiritual wellness, and vocational wellness.
This approach to wellness provides excellent results due to the fact that it manages to tackle the most prominent needs and problems of each individual; this wellness concept revolves around meaningful activities and positive beliefs, and has nothing to do with age-related limitations and constraints.
Furthermore, whole-person wellness is all about finding and maintaining balance by developing stronger coping skills and exploring the best methods to deal with daily challenges. This approach to wellness promotes moderation and enables its followers to avoid the negative effects of excess. In short, whole-person wellness succeeds in helping people reshape themselves on multiple levels, in the areas of physical, spiritual, social, vocational, intellectual and emotional health.
Each dimension listed above is extremely important, and plays a key role in one’s overall wellbeing. For example, emotional wellness refers to one’s ability to manage behaviors and feelings. It also encompasses one’s capacity to handle stress and everyday challenges, while giving and receiving love.
On the other hand, intellectual wellness mainly refers to one’s ability to develop and express ideas in an effective manner, in an attempt to expand an existing skill and knowledge database. Physical wellness is based on healthy lifestyle choices meant to replace excess in all its forms, as well as negative habits. This important dimension encourages participation in enjoyable activities meant to boost strength, flexibility and balance.
Social wellness targets the quality of one’s relationships with other people. By supporting the development of healthier, longer-lasting bonds with other community members, this wellness dimension enables individuals to live richer, more fulfilling lives in perfect harmony. At the same time, spiritual wellness allows people to find purpose and meaning in their existence, and feel connected to something (or someone) bigger than themselves. Last but not least, vocational or occupational wellness enables the elderly in senior living communities (and every other individual enrolled in a whole-person wellness program) discover a new calling in life, experience a feeling of usefulness to others, and implicitly, improve their self-esteem and self-image and boost their quality of life.
Taking the Shortest, Safest Road to Self-Discovery and Self-Enhancement
Whole-Person Wellness can be the start of a wonderful journey of self-discovery and self-enhancement. Those who are ready and eager to embark on this meaningful journey should start by focusing on specific personal wellness concepts that could drive positive changes in their lives, such as self-responsibility, self-efficiency or happiness. Goal-setting is an important part of the process. Ideally, those who wish to follow the principles of whole-person wellness to become the best versions of themselves should take the time to set specific objectives related to their growth-called S.M.A.R.T goals. (S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-realistic, T-time-bounded).
Impact Wellness Programs Can Have on Older Adults
The therapists hired by long-term care facilities can help resident/patients achieve their S.M.A.R.T goals by offering them the expert guidance and assistance that they may require to obtain the desirable results. For instance, some residents may wish to lose weight while strengthening their bodies and reducing their stress levels. This mission could be divided into several smaller and more manageable goals.
For example, those who want to achieve certain weight loss goals could eat 2 vegetable servings every day to curb cravings and boost their energy levels. To reduce stress, they could practice meditation by reading calming passages or practicing different yoga poses tailored to their physical condition two or three times a week. Moreover, those who wish to regain their mobility and flexibility can follow a personalized workout plan designed by their physical therapist.
Senior living communities (Assisted Living, Residential Living, or a Continuing Care Retirement Community) should design and implement meaningful wellness programs with their residents’ physical, intellectual and spiritual needs in mind. Such wellness programming in senior living communities may vary a great deal in terms of purpose, duration and overall organization, ranging from regular exercise classes and daily social activities to weekly or monthly volunteer opportunities.
These programs are geared towards the most notable benefits of the whole-person wellness concept, and stimulate residents to come out of their shell, forget their troubles, interact with likeminded people onsite, and invest their time in fun activities that cater to their social, intellectual and physical needs. Wellness programming is an essential component that all Senior Living Communities should focus on to keep their residents happy and healthy, and help them live longer, more fulfilling lives.
Often times, the elderly find it difficult to get engaged in new activities matching their interests, for one reason or another. Apathy, a precarious state of health, or the reduced ability to reinforce connections with other people of the same age, can be listed among the most prominent impediments that stop seniors from getting involved in new projects. On the other hand, older adults need to have multiple opportunities to participate in a wide variety of activities, simply because they have a lot of spare time on their hands that can be filled in a truly enjoyable manner.
Moreover, healthy social networks play an important part in preventing dementia, and various other chronic diseases that may affect seniors’ overall state of health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, social support represents a key pillar of healthy aging. An unengaged social life and social isolation can be linked to accelerated cognitive decline experienced by some aging individuals.
Importance of Participating in Wellness/Exercise as We Age
As we grow older, we need to put more time, effort and energy in activities meant to help us stay in shape, mentally, physically and spiritually. Wellness programs focused on the six dimensions detailed above address this pressing need in a successful manner. Unlike other programs that only tackle one’s medical necessities and safety concerns, whole-person wellness programs give long-term care receivers the chance to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives by eliminating any impediments or concerns that may stand in the way of their continuous evolution.
Ideally, wellness programs for seniors should be focused on several issues that affect the geriatric population, such as reduced flexibility, loss of balance, strength loss, brain health, post-rehab and arthritis. Aside from helping the elderly spend their time in an enjoyable manner and work on their social skills, such programs can also minimize the impact that certain age-related health concerns may have on the lives of the elderly.
Dancing, senior circuits, chair yoga, Pilates and aquatics programs are only a few amazingly relaxing activities that seniors could get involved in to expand their social network, find new talents, develop new skills, and adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle. Each activity may help participants unlock multiple benefits. For instance, low-impact dancing can improve balance and strength; at the same time, Pilates classes are the main component of a fun, body-conditioning ritual designed to build muscle strength, improve flexibility, and enhance endurance in the back, hips and legs. Long-term care facilities can mix and match different activities tailored to the medical and non-medical needs of their residents to help them get a few steps closer to their health and wellness-related goals rapidly and effortlessly.
Wellness programming in senior living communities keep seniors healthy and active through a number of pleasant activities designed to stimulate the body, mind and spirit; these soothing, perfectly safe environments also encourage socialization through fun games and leisure activities designed to help residents get to know each other and establish deeper connections.
Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc. designed a whole person wellness program in 2005 called MoveWell. Utilizing the combined expertise of our physical, occupational and speech therapists along with exercise physiologists, HTS’ MoveWell program has been widely successful in improving physical and cognitive health, while reducing falls and maintaining one’s independence. MoveWell is tailored and available to every BODY in your senior living community. For more information about MoveWell and contract rehabilitation by HTS go to www.htstherapy.com