Becoming An Elder of Excellence: Four Simple Tips for Exceptional Senior Living
If you’re a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, you’ll recall the command Captain Picard issued to accelerate the Enterprise: “Engage!” It’s an equally useful mandate for exceptional senior living and healthy aging. To enjoy your senior years to the fullest, choose to be fully engaged.
Stay Socially Engaged
Here at Kensington Park, social engagement is integral to a healthy senior living experience. Our pledge — to love and care for your family as we do our own — takes shape as an ever-changing calendar of events and activities that can keep our residents engaged seven days a week, from morning till evening.
To us, life enrichment means developing and maintaining a strong quality of life: mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually. Research has shown that staying active and socially involved reduces stress, keeps you mentally sharp, and enhances health.
Our team draws from a wide range of resident interests in an effort to appeal to everyone. We celebrate the uniqueness of each of the special senior personalities among us.
Many people find themselves wanting to give back as they age, to support those who are in the process of finding their way in the world. This is known as generativity, a term coined by developmental psychologist Erik Erikson to describe “a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation.”
Generativity promotes healthy senior living by helping seniors remain mentally and spiritually engaged. It also defines what becoming an “elder” looks like: not simply older, but committed to using your wisdom and experience in service to others.
Ron Pevny, who created the Center for Conscious Eldering, says when a senior embraces elderhood, they start to feel lighter in heart and body, “as you imagine the latter years of your life filled with passion, purpose and vitality.” This phase of your life can be a time of harvest, when you give back to your community. It can be deeply satisfying, beyond the joys of companionship and social engagement.
Living as an elder can also allow you to heal longtime rifts in relationships, which will free up a lot of mental energy for later life enjoyment. Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi refers to this as “life repair”, something it’s never too late (or too early) to do: “finding the pearls in anxious memories.”
Enjoy Delectable Dining
Fine dining is at the heart of healthy senior living. At Kensington Park, we maintain our own herb/produce garden from which our Director of Dining, Morissa Harris, selects appropriate items to incorporate into upcoming menus — following a discussion with residents about what they’d like to eat. That’s fresh, local, and resident-centric dining, personified.
Morissa grew up cooking alongside her dad, so bringing satisfaction to others through food is in her DNA. She says, “I transform each mealtime gathering into a sensational dining experience, taking great care to ensure that our dining atmosphere, cuisine and customer service are impeccable.”
Her commitment extends to publishing a regular Culinary Corner on our blog, filled with delectable recipes your family can create at home! Here are some recent favorites:
The evidence is in: staying active keeps you physically fit and mentally strong as well, by lowering your risk of cognitive decline — and slowing memory loss in adults with dementia.
According to a recent National Institute on Aging funded study, among those who exercised regularly, even people who were discovered (on autopsy) to have brain pathology exhibited no symptoms of dementia. The researchers explained, “Physical activity may promote cognitive resilience, helping offset or mask the negative consequences of neurodegeneration.”
What if you feel “too tired” to exercise? Consider this exciting finding: exercise will actually give you energy. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Journal found that inactive people who complained of fatigue could increase energy up to 20 percent while decreasing fatigue by as much as 65 percent, simply by participating in a regular, low-intensity exercise program.
Regular exercise even helps your skin look younger by boosting the formation of collagen, the structural protein found in connective tissue. It’s a natural facelift.
Another critical component of regular weight-bearing exercise: it strengthens your bones, which will help prevent falls. Approximately a third of those 65 and older fall every year, and almost half of those who take a tumble will fall again within a year. At least ten percent of seniors who fall will sustain a fracture.
Your 4-Pronged Approach for Healthy Senior Living
In summary, to live healthfully in a way that supports you mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually:
- Participate, and make friends. Social participation and connection keeps seniors mentally stimulated, which helps maintain cognitive abilities and stave off mental decline.
- Keep your body moving. Physical inactivity has been linked to a wide range of health concerns, from high blood pressure and excess body fat, to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Bonus: movement helps maintain muscle tone, builds bone, and protects your physical and mental health, which benefits every aspect of functioning and well-being.
- Share your accrued wisdom and experience. Feeling disconnected and lonely are leading causes of early mortality, heart disease, and obesity among seniors. You may think no one wants to hear what you know, yet your accumulated life wisdom can be a boon to younger generations. Reach out, and share your life experiences. Stepping up as an elder will benefit you as much as those with whom you share.
- Support healthy nutritional goals. Metabolism, digestion, appetite, and our sense of taste and smell all diminish with age, which can make eating well a challenge, even for a palate-pleasing, professionally trained senior chef. Staying active promotes appetite, and dining in community creates the sense of belonging that encourages residents to enjoy the healthful, appetizing menu artfully displayed at each meal. Of course, we accommodate special dietary requirements such as low-sodium, gluten-free, heart healthy and pureed foods.
We look forward to welcoming you home to Kensington Park!