As an older adult, it is important to take some time to visualize your aging experience, and identify specific goals that pertain to your values, beliefs, and lifestyle wishes. These goals can be related to your health, your social well-being, your finances, your dreams, or anything that you would like to accomplish as you reach later life. It is also important to visualize what your ideal aging experience would look like in correlation to an Optimal Aging paradigm. You may be wondering what this means, or concerned that you haven’t heard of the term before; but Best Life is here to teach you how to create a personalized foundation of aging that reflects your unique goals through the use of the Optimal Aging theory.
Before we get into the self-reflection process, we must first have an understanding of the theory of Optimal Aging itself, and where it comes from. Optimal Aging is a theory within the field of Gerontology (the study of aging) that focuses on the main domains that should be considered throughout the aging process. These domains are similar to the domains within Therapeutic Recreation practices (read the article What is Therapeutic Recreation, and Why Is It So Beneficial?here), and include Physical, Functional, Cognitive, Emotional, Social, and Spiritual well-being. The idea is that in order to age optimally, an older adult should be able to live in harmony within these domains despite their medical condition. Optimal Aging suggests that we should continue to live to our own satisfaction within these domains even with the presence of chronic conditions or illness. This theory outlines the importance of utilizing an individual’s existing skills and abilities to adapt to changing life and health circumstances that are inevitable as we age.
Now that we have more of an understanding of Optimal Aging, we can start to discover which domains are more important to us, and how we can create our own foundation of aging to guide us through later life. Ultimately, your foundation of aging can include anything that you believe will enhance your aging experience. This can be something that you share with your loved ones, healthcare professionals, friends, or something that you keep in the back of your mind when navigating your life. With the concepts of Optimal Aging in mind, Best Life encourages you to think about which domains are the most important in your life, and what you think aging optimally looks like in your unique circumstances. For example, if being socially connected is something that is extremely important to you, your Foundation of Aging might include things like; Seeing my family as much as possible, getting coffee with friends, going to my church group every Sunday, volunteering, sending birthday cards every year, etc. If your cognitive functioning is something that you want to focus on, you could include things like; Completing 2 word searches a day, reading the newspaper every weekend, take a creative writing class, give a presentation to a local school, etc. At Best Life, we believe in Person-Centred care, and having an understanding of your Foundation of Aging can help you advocate for yourself and your wishes.
If you are interested in developing your Foundation of Aging but don’t know where to start, we can help. Book a FREE 30 minute consultation with an Aging Enrichment Consultant to help identify the most important domains for Optimal Aging in your life. We can help you achieve these goals and dreams throughout your aging experience. Best Life will help you advocate for the aging experience that you deserve.