One of my recent manifestos on what ‘changing aging’ means inspired an interesting blog post at LeadingAge (our friends formerly known as AASHA). For those not intimate with the world of aging, LeadingAge is the national association for nonprofit aging-services organizations and does a fantastic job advancing policies, practices and research that “supports, enables and empowers people to live fully as they age.”
LeadingAge is very interested in using its clout to influence how the caregiving industry views the concept of “wellness” in long term care. They have set out to create a new definition of “Wellness” that promotes the idea that older adults can remain fully engaged “in living throughout their lives — regardless of real or perceived barriers.”
Like the phrase culture change, the term wellness is now used liberally in our field. And it isn’t always easy to determine the meaning behind the language. For some, wellness means preventative medicine like blood pressure clinics or flu shots. For others, wellness means life enrichment programming like art, or cooking classes. Regardless of your definition, I am delighted by the increase in discussion and focus around the idea of older adult wellness.
On Dr. Bill Thomas’ ChangingAging Blog, writer Kavan Peterson recently defined ChangingAging:
- Aging is about growth and development (not decline and decay).
- Longevity is about living as well as possible (not as long as possible).
- Health and wellness is about enjoying life and growing no matter your age or condition (not about staying young forever).
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s is about creating a life worth living regardless of memory ability (not about waging a war against memory loss).
- Elderhood is a distinct stage of life and growth (not the dead end of retirement).
I think these concepts resonate with our developing definition of wellness at LeadingAge.
I’ll return the complement and endorse LeadingAge’s efforts to promote whole person wellness. Visit LeadingAge here to learn more about their efforts, including how to join their wellness and life enrichment listserv (boasting over 500 members) and their new activities and life enrichment education track.