Active aging begins with 1 simple choice

Published 9:35 am Thursday, December 31, 2015

Senior Care by Katie Davis

What do the words “active aging” mean to you? According to The World Health Organization, it’s the process of optimizing opportunities for participation in healthy choices in order to enhance quality of life as you age.

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former director-general of the organization, described active aging when she said, “There is much the individual can do to remain active and healthy in later life. A healthy lifestyle, the involvement of family and friends and a supportive environment for older persons all preserve well-being.”

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Dr. Brundtland’s words also accurately describe the widely-used Six Dimensions of Wellness model developed by Dr. Bill Hettler of the National Wellness Institute. The six dimensions of wellness in Dr. Hettler’s model include spiritual, physical, social, mental, emotional and vocational well-being.

Katie Davis

Katie Davis

Spiritual well-being is about finding meaning, purpose and hope in life.

Physical well-being focuses on optimizing physical health through good nutrition and exercise and also avoiding behaviors that may compromise health. Promoting physical well-being means practicing habits that eventually become a lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising and scheduling routine physicals.

Social well-being includes building strong relationships with family, co-workers, friends and members of your community. Social well-being is strengthened by participation in social events, organizations or clubs or simply by visiting with others.

Mental well-being means growing in self-understanding or self-actualization and continually developing and exercising the mind. This can be done by taking advantage of lifelong learning opportunities and seeking out new experiences.

Emotional well-being emphasizes the importance of expressing one’s self appropriately and coping with stress in a healthy way. The benefits of emotional well-being include having a positive and enthusiastic outlook on life. Participation in yoga, support groups and meditation are a few examples of ways to promote emotional well-being.

Vocational well-being focuses on balancing work and leisure and using your gifts and talents to serve others. A few examples of ways to enhance your vocational well-being include volunteering, teaching/mentoring and community outreach.

It’s never too late to make healthier choices in your daily routine. Sociologists and anthropologists have long said that humans are pattern seekers, and we get comfortable with daily patterns and behaviors. Often, it is the small changes that we can stick to most successfully. Even one small, healthy change maintained over the course of a lifetime can yield great benefits.

It is all about optimizing healthy choices to enhance your quality of life. It’s not always easy, but active aging can begin with one simple choice.


Katie Davis is the campus administrator at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.