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What's new: The business case for wellness programs in senior living.

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The Journal on Active Aging brings articles of value to professionals dedicated to older-adult quality of life. Content sweeps across the active-aging landscape to focus on education and practice. Find articles of interest by searching the article archives in three ways: Enter a keyword in the articles search bar; click on search by topic; or type a keyword or phrase in the general search bar at the top of the page.

Voyaging via virtual reality by Marilynn Larkin, MA-6317

Voyaging via virtual reality by Marilynn Larkin, MA

Excited by growing scientific evidence that virtual reality (VR) is a useful tool for cognitive and physical rehabilitation, I was eager to look at VR programs that are being marketed directly to the active-aging industry for use with residents. While none have yet undergone rigorous large-scale studies, one in particular has been piloted in multiple settings, and will soon be tested in a Harvard University-led study. Rendever, said to "give older adults a window to parts of the world that they're missing," is notable in that it was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students who won a USD$25,000 Healthcare Innovations prize for the program in 2017. Maplewood Senior Living, which owns and operates 14 senior living communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Ohio, is among the first to pilot Rendever. I recently talked with Maplewood's Brian Geyser, APRN-BC, MSN, vice president of Clinical Innovation and Population Health, about the program, why he decided to deploy it and what the outcomes are so far.

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Technology

Nutrition for healthy aging by Lisa Powell, MS, RDN-6315

Nutrition for healthy aging by Lisa Powell, MS, RDN

"Mens sana in corpore sano"--this Latin phrase translates to "healthy mind in a healthy body," surely a universal goal for aging gracefully and well. Many assume that decreasing fitness levels, failing health, frailty and decline in cognitive function are unavoidable with aging, but people can do much to help maintain healthy function into their 70s, 80s and beyond. Nutrition is a key factor in healthy aging. While calorie needs decrease with age, nutrient needs typically do not--in fact, the need for some nutrients, such as protein, appears to increase. Good choices can provide the body with the best nutrients and fuel for optimal wellness at any age.

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Physical wellness

The Art of Life: Creating a joyful, interactive performance for all ages by Kerry Hughes Thomas, MA-6313

The Art of Life: Creating a joyful, interactive performance for all ages by Kerry Hughes Thomas, MA

A community art project launched in 2017 enriched the lives of 950 participants and their audiences with the inspiring message that we all are part of life's big picture. Senior living residents from two communities in Atlanta, Georgia, collaborated with participants of all ages and abilities from the community-at-large to create a multidisciplinary performance blending dance, theater, music and visual art. And the active-aging professional who initiated the project envisions further opportunities to celebrate living well through creativity.

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Social wellness

Innovative efforts fuel new options-6231

Innovative efforts fuel new options

Growth. It's what active aging is all about. For those who embrace it, active aging embodies the life-affirming philosophy that, at any age, people can engage in life as fully as possible within the multiple dimensions of wellness. It's a journey steeped in learning and growth. Active-aging professionals and organizations are also on this journey. Each year, they synthesize what they know--from formal/informal learning and on-the-ground experience--and what they have recently discovered into new wellness opportunities for older adults. Knowledge combines with creativity and passion in efforts that advance research, concepts, practices, programs and environments. To encourage this momentum toward growth, the International Council on Active Aging invites applications for its annual ICAA Innovators Awards. ICAA presents these awards each year to those in the industry who are leading the way, setting new standards, and making a difference in the lives of older adults. The program exists to recognize excellence and creativity in the industry.

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Innovator awards

The Thrive Institute encourages older adults to flourish-6229

The Thrive Institute encourages older adults to flourish

Notre Dame du Lac has served as "a place of renewal, refreshment and healthy living" for many years. Built shortly after 1900 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the building was first a convent for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who informally referred to the site as "God's Acre." Efforts to preserve du Lac's character earned praise when the building was extensively renovated before opening as an assisted-living center in 2000. "The building and programs have adapted to each era, but always with a mission towards the health of elders,"says the website of Notre Dame Health Care (NDHC), the nonprofit organization that today carries on the holy sisters' mission. Deeply committed to person-centered care for the whole person, NDHC promotes social, physical, intellectual, emotional, environmental and spiritual well-being. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's core mission also includes a commitment to "educate for life." Launched in fall 2014, The Thrive Institute embodies NDHC's holistic-health and education commitments with its "Thrivin" series of programs for older adults.

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Program profiles

Safe sex: A vital contributor to wellness and healthy aging by Marilynn Larkin, MA-6227

Safe sex: A vital contributor to wellness and healthy aging by Marilynn Larkin, MA

Despite much evidence to the contrary, the myth that older adults don't have sex persists, sometimes even among older adults themselves, as well as those who work with them. Yet a seminal study published a decade ago in the New England Journal of Medicine documented just the opposite. After interviewing a representative sample of more than 3,000 men and women between the ages of 57 and 85, the authors found that, overall, 73% of individuals ages 57-64 were sexually active, as were 53% of those ages 65-74 and 26% of those ages 75-85. Yet even among those who acknowledge that older people are sexually active, many believe another and potentially more dangerous myth--namely, that these adults aren't at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

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Health promotion

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