The Seven Dimensions of Wellness for Seniors
The following article is by Alysa Stanford the Administrator/Director of Wellness at AES Therapy & Fitness.
The International Council on Active Aging wants to move the definition of wellness from managing disease to prevention. Paying attention to each of the dimensions of wellness translates to a higher quality of life. The ICAA uses a model with seven Dimensions of Wellness. When thinking about ways to live a healthy and fulfilling life, there are proactive strategies available for each area of well-being.
I have been a fitness and wellness coach for 11 years. In that time, I’ve created and implemented wellness programs for licensed senior living facilities, hosted wellness fairs, provided services for seniors aged 55 to 103, presented on health topics affecting a senior population, and conducted in-depth interviews to better understand their needs. In that time, I’ve given a lot of thought and experimentation to what constitutes whole-person wellness and how to achieve it in our later years.
In a younger population, vocational wellness focuses on career satisfaction. Older adults need to be recognized for their talents, skills, and abilities. This can be achieved through contributing to society as professionals, caregivers, mentors, teachers and volunteers.
Spiritual wellness is understanding the purpose of living and having a set of beliefs, values and principles that help guide us. This can be achieved through group and individual faith-based activities, meditation, mindful exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi, and/or guidance from a spiritual leader.
Emotional wellness is the ability to express yourself in a healthy way. Coping with challenges by behaving in trustworthy and respectful ways and being aware of your emotions show your health in this area. Resources include peer counseling, stress management, individual counseling, artistic expression and humor.
Keeping our minds active and engaged is the goal of intellectual wellness. The ability to learn and grow is a good sign you are putting effort into maintaining and improving memory. Activities include taking college courses, journaling, painting, joining a theater group, playing challenging games and puzzles and speech therapy.
Considering our changing physical activity and nutrition requirements is important to achieve physical wellness. We should also see our doctor regularly and avoid smoking and alcohol. Any exercise is good exercise and the more we participate in physically-challenging activities the better we will feel.
Social wellness is based on how someone interacts with their community. Individuals should feel like they have deep and meaningful relationships with family, friends, neighbors and community members. Increasing personal contact by joining clubs, engaging in inter-generational experiences, signing up for events and making time to strike up a conversation are vital to maintaining health.
Contributing to your environment, both indoor and outdoor spaces, will help you feel environmentally well. Look for ways to spend time in nature by walking, meditating, gardening or simply sitting outside. Do you feel you have control over your dwelling and have things where and how you would like them to be? Keep things clean, organized and safe.
Setting goals to plan, attend or engage in activities from each of the Seven Dimensions of Wellness will lead to a high quality of life. People who have healthy lifestyle habits tend to live longer lives with fewer years of being sick than their unhealthy counterparts. It is never too late to make small changes with big payoffs.
Bio: Alysa Stanford is the Administrator/Director of Wellness at AES Therapy & Fitness