September is Healthy Aging Month, a time to reflect and inspire older adults to focus on all aspects of health while aging. Healthy Aging Month encourages us to embrace the positive aspects of growing older and to adopt healthier habits that promote successful aging.
As our population grows older, creating awareness of healthy aging is crucial in today’s society. Healthy aging is holistic. It is important that we support our physical health, mental health, social connections, and passions as we age. Staying active by walking a bit every day, practicing breathing and mindfulness techniques, and getting outside to enjoy nature are all ways to support physical and emotional wellness. Eating a balanced diet, partaking in yoga to practice both balance and mindfulness (check out this free online beginner’s yoga video here!), and staying up to date on doctor’s appointments are all additional ways to practice healthy aging.
Not only is it important to have daily exercise and a nutritious diet, but it is also important to have social connections and to keep the mind active, especially during the pandemic. Loneliness and isolation are associated with higher risk for many health conditions including heart disease and cognitive decline. Research from the National Institute on Aging further describes the effects of social isolation and loneliness on health, the prevalence of loneliness during COVID-19, and resources to help older adults with social isolation and loneliness.
For LGBTQ+ older adults, heathy aging can be more difficult due to prejudice and discrimination experienced in our community. However, it is important to recognize the resiliency and sense of community shared by many LGBTQ+ older adults. The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has created an LGBT Healthy Aging Toolkit with guidance for healthy aging in the LGBTQ+ community, including topics covering spirituality, community connection, physical health, mental health, and more.
While healthy aging can be difficult during a pandemic, there are many virtual forums to learn about health issues, engage with community, and access resources that promote healthier living. Our Elder Initiative at William Way programming, for example, seeks to help older adults in our communities to care for their physical, social, and emotional wellness through programming including the Doctor Is In, Thrivers, Mornings Out, Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs, and a virtual social hour on Fridays at noon. Contact us to learn more about any of these programs!