Celebrating Active Aging Week

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It was bound to happen eventually, but I just expected it to happen later rather than sooner. The realization that life continues to accelerate at a pace much faster than I would prefer has suddenly hit home.

On occasion, my boys will lovingly tease me about getting older; there are times when I cannot figure out how to update something on my phone; operating a remote control with 50 buttons on it seems overwhelming to me. However, just because I have turned the corner into my 50s, somewhat confidently yet not fully comfortable yet, I realize that just because I am facing the afternoon of life doesn’t mean I can’t be a vital and fully participating member of society.

Growing older doesn’t mean losing one’s capabilities. Acquiring additional years should be celebrated, championed and, yes, even revered.To that end, the International Council on Active Aging, or ICAA, has initiated Active Aging Week, a weeklong celebration that began in 2003. This year’s observance will be held next month, October 4 through 9, in many places throughout the United States and around the world.

According to the ICAA, “Active Aging Week challenges society’s diminished expectations of aging by showing that, regardless of age or health conditions, adults over 50 can live as fully as possible in all areas of life–physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, vocational and environmental.” The primary objective of this annual health-promotion event is to provide older adults the ability to experience a variety of wellness activities in a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, this event promotes the benefits of embracing a healthier and more active lifestyle throughout one’s life span.

Since this campaign began, the ICAA and numerous host organizations have positively affected the lives of millions of people around the world, including the United States, Canada, India, Australia, Ireland and Finland. Last year, more than 3,000 organizations hosted events to promote the benefits of leading an active and healthier lifestyle. The organizations involved include active adult and community centers, retirement homes and assisted living facilities, medical practices, libraries, wellness centers, senior services agencies and governmental departments.
Host organizations during this year’s promotion will offer a variety of events to celebrate Active Aging Week, delivering positive and inspiring messages on aging, energizing the communities in which they are involved with experiences designed to accommodate their populations and enhance well-being and personal growth. Activities promoted include a focus on physical activity, skin health and nutrition. For the first time, AAW will offer participants live fitness and wellness classes through the Zoom platform; all sessions are free of charge and registration is necessary. Live dance wellness classes and workshops combine education and exercise so you walk away with actionable information to better yourself. A special workshop designed for Active Aging Week is based on creating habits that keep you active as you age.

Intellectual wellness activities are provided to exercise the mind and include trivia questions, puzzles and brain teasers. For spiritual wellness, participants will learn about meditation and deep breathing exercise techniques. Social wellness will focus on the importance of interacting with others and building meaningful relationships while simultaneously learning how to create a support system of family, friends and caregivers.

To promote maximum participation from global communities, the International Council on Active Aging is making a large collection of videos, provided by One Day University and Spiro100, available for free. These videos include movement classes as well as lectures on history, the arts and lifestyle, all designed to engage healthy bodies, minds and spirits. Topics include the artistic genius of Michelangelo, turning points in American history, separating fact from fiction about the flu epidemic of 1918, guided imagery for serenity, climate change and multiple archived films that are geared to engage the mind and body.

Other topics discussed during this include understanding muscle health, nutrition and healthy aging. Nearly 50 percent of older adults suffer from muscle loss, which can impact their overall health and recovery. The ICAA will promote activities featuring how to eat healthy and stay strong, focusing on fighting muscle mass loss, good nutrition and community nutrition resources. Because nine of ten older adults fail to meet key nutrient intake levels recommended for an active and healthy life, this is an integral part of the week-long celebration.

Each year, Active Aging Week promises to be filled with fun, educational experiences and positive messages that prove aging is not just a process, but a wonderful journey filled with potential. As Frank Lloyd Wright once contemplated, “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Besides, when you consider the alternative, growing older isn’t so bad after all.

Sources: icaa.cc and activeagingweek.com.