Healing practices: The evidence for Chinese medicine and healthy aging by Kelly Clady-Giramma, MS, LAc, Dipl OM
In China, long life and older adults are revered and aging embraced. Prior to the rising popularity of Western culture there over the past few decades, birthday celebrations were reserved for the very old. While everyone is young once, the thinking goes, it takes a lot of luck and talent to grow old-talent that deserves to be celebrated. Unsurprisingly, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy of longevity is not synonymous with the contemporary Western obsession with "anti-aging." Taoism, an ancient spiritual system that promotes living in harmony with nature and gave rise to TCM, encourages functionality and feeling young on the inside rather than simply looking young on the outside. TCM offers many tools and advice around longevity. It advocates balanced life in all its aspects. It promotes connection to nature and its cycles as well as respect for our circadian (daily) rhythms. TCM also encourages us to take personal responsibility for our health and be proactive. Many more people and physicians are turning to personalized integrative medicine today, focusing on healthy lifestyles and the best of various healing traditions. Integrative medicine combines treatments from conventional allopathic, or "Western", medicine with other evidence-based healing modalities from around the world, including TCM. For active-aging organizations, TCM's complementary approaches may open additional avenues to support clients in living longer, healthier lives.
Wellness industry remains resilient during pandemic restrictions by Patricia Ryan, MS
No one has remained untouched by the lifestyle changes that rapidly emerged once the news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) filled the airwaves. The awareness that this new virus was highly contagious and could lead to serious illness and death was immediately grasped by the professionals working with older adults. Actions to control the spread of the virus meant social distancing (keeping six feet of physical space between individuals), self-isolation once a "stay at home" emergency was declared, face masks and lots of handwashing. Yet, COVID-19 has not stopped the dedicated professionals of the wellness workforce. Armed with creativity and can-do attitudes, nearly 300 International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA) members shared in early April 2020 how the pandemic had impacted their work and workplaces, and what they were doing to deliver needed services. Their comments showcase the efforts the workforce has expended to foster quality of life among residents, members and staff alike during pandemic restrictions.
Adding a wellness
If we have learned anything from recent pandemic events, it is the value and power of preparedness and prevention. Wellness practices play a huge role in prevention and thus in preparation to better battle healthcare issues that arise. Consider how a healthier older population would not only thrive in regular circumstances, but with better immune systems, manage illness during the more frequent pandemics of our "interconnected viral age." With that said, if you have not already done so, is now the time to create a chief wellness officer (CWO) position in your organization? I assume you have chief executive, financial, operating and technology officers. Why would you not have a CWO? Especially, when a wellness focus creates positive outcomes. If you already created a CWO position, read on to assess if additional insights can enhance this function and the wellness outcomes in your organization. If you are noodling the idea of a CWO, this article will create a framework for your success. Either way, you will want to consider these points in your process.
The impact of widowhood: How to support well-being for these men and women by Teresa Amaral Beshwate, MPH
My husband and I were out of state celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary and having lunch when his heart stopped beating. Despite my immediate response and the timely and appropriate efforts on the part of emergency services, that day I joined the ranks of the millions of people who are widowed. I was 39 years old. Losing a spouse is a common occurrence in general, and more common in older adults, for whom it can have serious and even life-threatening consequences. A key factor in healing is social support. For those who serve older adults, a tremendous opportunity exists to play a role in offering meaningful, long-term support to help a grieving person navigate life after loss.
Purpose-centered senior living: A new vision for engaging elders as change agents and leaders by Kay Van Norman, MS
In 2011 a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northern Japan. Yet rather than seeking rescue, Japanese elders took leadership throughout the crisis by demonstrating hope and resilience. They rebuilt a local center, grew vegetables and provided food and comfort for people of all ages. The willingness of these older adults to help organize relief efforts, and the overwhelmingly positive outcomes, led to further outreach when disasters struck other countries. This was all made possible through the vision of Emi Kiyota, founder of Ibasho, a nonprofit that partners with local organizations and communities to empower elders to be change agents and leaders. Ibasho demonstrates that elders can provide leadership regardless of personal challenges or the magnitude of the situation. It also illustrates the power of purpose and the incredible positive momentum that one person can ignite in this world.
Health, wealth and longevity: New tools allow science-based financial planning by S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, Karl Ricanek, PhD, Kirk Ashburn, CCPS, and Steven Austad, PhD
The wealthiest individuals tend to lead longer lives than their poorest counterparts--up to an additional 15 years for men and 10 years for women in one 2016 study. The researchers noted at the time that these disparities could relate to differences in educational levels, lifestyles and health behaviors rather than simply financial status. Now, a newly published study in the Journal of Gerontology shows that when compared to the poorest individuals, the wealthiest men and women also enjoy nearly a decade longer in "favorable states of health" and free from disability, based on estimates arrived at by measuring healthy life expectancy (referred to here as healthspan). Even as calls go out to address disparities and improve healthy life expectancy for all, more people are already living to advanced ages. Many will outlive their money and large segments of the population have little or no money set aside for retirement at all, creating personal as well as public challenges across a wide range of areas, including housing and healthcare. What if it did not have to be that way? Financial advisors know that health and happiness are by far the most precious commodities that clients seek--longevity is just a bonus. Wealth amplifies the chances that both will occur. Longevity accompanied by good health then becomes a gift. Today, new tools merge aging science with wealth planning to help individuals achieve these goals.
The flip side: Weighing benefits versus drawbacks of innovative technologies by Marilynn Larkin, MA
Technology: The word can evoke both excitement and uncertainty among active-aging industry providers in all settings, from senior living and seniors centers to health clubs and rehabilitation centers. Excitement, because new technologies often provide opportunities to accomplish tasks faster and more easily and may enable staff and constituents to take charge of their health and connect socially; uncertainty, because implementing those same applications often requires a change in the status quo, a learning curve and, of course, a cost. How do you know if you're choosing the right product for your wellness services-or if you even need it? How do you best apply and monitor it? How do you ensure the most beneficial aspects of technologies are successfully implemented, and with a minimum of disruption or mistakes? And how do you retain the personal, social connections so critical to well-being, while also staying current and competitive? "Technology has become both a solution and a challenge," states International Council on Active Aging CEO Colin Milner. In this interview, he shares examples of how technology can help-but at times work against-dimensions of wellness and society at large.
Beacons of excellence: Profiling winners in the wellness culture space by Julie Halpert
After 15 years living in a rural community on the Chesapeake Bay, Joel Grow, 69, and his wife, Rebecca, 73, decided to move to a senior living community. The Grows don't have children. They feared that getting care as they aged would be challenging in their remote setting on America's Mid-Atlantic coast. An acquaintance suggested they visit Sunnyside Retirement Community, a life-plan community located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In March 2018, the couple moved to Sunnyside. "I haven't lived in any other retirement community, but I know this is a wonderful place," Joel states. In fact, Sunnyside is more than a nice place to live. Along with state and international awards, the Virginia community is one of the top five [of 25] winners of the inaugural ICAA NuStep Beacon Award, announced October 2019. To win the Beacon award, communities must demonstrate the ways in which they meet the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, vocational and environmental. Previously, the Journal on Active Aging featured an article on Moorings Park, the number one "Best in Wellness" community... The four communities that round out the top five are profiled in the article in this issue.
Strengthen the immune system naturally: More lifestyle strategies to counter chronic inflammation by Shirley Archer, JD, MA
If someone suggested that making very simple adjustments to one's daily routine would result in more energy, better sleep and potentially fewer aches and pains, with no adverse side effects and yet a host of beneficial side effects, would that persuade you or the people you work with to adopt them? In part one of my Journal on Active Aging (JAA) article on countering chronic inflammation for healthier aging, I described how lifestyle choices, environmental factors and genetics affect conditions related to inflammation. Since our genetics and many environmental factors--such as exposure to pollutants or environmental contaminants--are beyond our control, what we can influence are our lifestyle choices. The first article provided an overview of inflammation and focused on nutritional strategies to lower inflammation. Growing evidence is shining light on additional lifestyle factors and their relationship with the immune system. This second article offers a sampling of areas in which older adults can make simple lifestyle changes to support a healthy immune system, improve quality of life and enhance healthy aging.
Targeting elder abuse by Alice Steinfeld, MEd, MA, LPC
With the age 60+ population predicted to nearly double worldwide by 2050, the potential for mistreatment of older adults will increase exponentially along with their need for care and support. That's because individuals may become a target of abuse and exploitation as they grow more dependent due to frayed community connections, inadequate social support for families, and ageism that sees older people as less than equal. Whether care comes from family members, professionals or self-care, laws are needed to protect older adults from possible abuse or neglect and ensure they are treated fairly. Often, elder abuse goes unreported because the individual depends greatly on the abuser, or a lack of clarity exists concerning what constitutes such abuse. In fact, elder abuse is a serious and growing challenge. Like other types of domestic violence, elder abuse is complicated. Contributors include a mixture of psychological, social and economic factors, along with the mental and physical conditions of both survivor and abuser. As professionals dedicated to quality of life for older adults, we all have a responsibility to participate in attempts to stop elder abuse, despite the inherent difficulties. So, how do we prevent or end something so complex?