Active aging”, a term created by the World Health Organization in the late 1990’s, is a deliberate approach to aging according to one’s personal wishes and needs. While each person’s goals may be different, many aging adults share a common desire to lead engaged, independent lives with a focus on healthy longevity. What exactly are these goals we refer to and what do they mean?
1. In this example, engagement refers to a person’s awareness of where he or she exists within the current society at large and at the community level. A person’s contributions to society is based on the individual’s experiences and personal interests, and being engaged in the community can greatly increase their overall quality of life.
2. Autonomy and independence is the seeming ability to manage and control one’s lifestyle on a daily basis. A professional caregiver does not take away from an individual’s autonomy; in fact, a caregiver can actually support and encourage a person’s independence as they enable the continuation of activities that may prove more difficult as one ages. Realized independence can allow a person to live in a community setting of his or her choice, with as much or as little outside help as desired.
3. Healthy longevity is more than lifespan – it refers to the number of healthy years an individual is able to enjoy with optimal quality of life. Healthy longevity can be affected by chronic conditions, physical disabilities and other limitations, some of which can be managed with the right care and attention.
Society’s perceptions of aging adults are constantly changing, and one positive change over recent years is the view that seniors can provide value to their communities well past the age of 65. For example, recent research shows people who continue working in complex careers may experience slower cognitive decline since they’re constantly engaging and reinforcing the brain’s cognitive reserve.
With a mission to change the way the world ages, Senior Helpers consistently advocates for improvements to the standard of living and perception of seniors. To this end, we actively encourage the development of programs and communities to support their personal well-being. The Village Movement refers to community-based networks that provide older adults with a supportive environment to successfully age in place. And on a more personal level, we urge individuals and their families to create a personal health plan to plan for a future of successful aging.