Active Aging Week celebrates community, social involvement

There’s no doubt that staying active – physically, mentally and socially – is an integral part of healthy senior living. But while many people recognize the importance of remaining engaged, it is often easier said than done. Everything from mobility issues to social isolation to chronic illness can derail an otherwise active lifestyle. In an effort to bring attention to the key role that activity in all its forms plays in senior living, the International Council on Active Aging  has denoted Sept. 22 through 28 as Active Aging Week, and there are a variety of ways for older adults and retirement communities to take part.

More than exercise
While physical activities such as walking, swimming and cycling can help seniors stay healthy in a variety of ways, it is not the only component of active aging. For instance, social activity can play just as important a role. It’s with that in mind that the ICAA is encouraging thousands of organizations around the globe to take time to schedule events and other activities aimed at helping older adults remain socially engaged in their communities. Whether it’s something as simple as joining children in a nature walk or hosting an open house, retirement communities are an important part of keeping seniors healthy.

“The theme this year: ‘Discovering Your Community,” said ICAA CEO Colin Milner. “What a wonderful theme it is, because it gives you a vast array of things you can do to help your residents or members discover their personal communities or the community at large.”

A sense of purpose
Staying active also provide seniors with a greater sense of purpose once they’ve left the workforce, and according to recent research, that can have a considerable impact on their overall health and well-being. Some of the most compelling evidence comes from a 2010 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center, the study looked at more than 900 elderly adults. First, the team analyzed their personality traits and then followed up to see whether they went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found people who had a greater sense of fulfillment also had a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.