Posted: August 9, 2023
If we don’t exercise our bodies, our muscles lose their health or “tone.” While the brain is not a muscle, the same applies to our cognitive fitness—if we don’t use it, we lose it. The focus in senior living has begun to shift from prioritizing physical condition only, to that of including cognitive fitness for older adults as well.
Receiving physical care is often what attracts residents to senior living communities and Physical Health is one of our core principles, including strength training and aerobic exercise. However, at purpose-driven communities such as Cappella of Pueblo West, encouraging residents to discover or re-discover interests and passions is what helps them to thrive, both physically and cognitively. Our Rhythms Life enrichment (LE) programs are built upon the “Five Pillars of Wellbeing”: social connection, intellectual engagement, purposeful living, physical health and spiritual growth. Providing residents with opportunities to achieve and keep the brain active and healthy.
Social – Building community through shared values and experiences, fostering relationships that bring us together.
Loneliness can be a common problem among older adults, especially since oftentimes the opportunity for social interaction can be limited. Studies have proven that having regular social interaction leads to happier and more fulfilled lives and this has a correlation with long-term mental health. In fact, a recent Harvard Medical School study found that older adults who interacted with people outside of their usual family and friend circle were more likely to be more active, have greater positive moods, and fewer negative feelings.
Intellectual – Supporting brain health with lifelong learning and meaningful ways to keep an active mind.
According to the National Institute on Aging, as we age our brain health can be affected by a variety of age-related changes and there are some factors that affect brain health that can’t be changed. However, there are lifestyle changes that may help make a difference in maintaining good brain health, one of which is keeping your mind active. Some studies show that learning new skills and stimulating the brain can help improve thinking and memory. At Cappella Pueblo West, residents participate in planning our monthly continuing education opportunities so they will always have a way to learn something that interests them.
Physical – Promoting healthy choices and habits, independence and inclusive fitness for enhanced function.
As we get older, it becomes more and more important to maintain physical strength, balance, and flexibility. Whether it is in the form of taking a walk or cleaning their home, exercise helps older adults reduce falls, improve strength and balance, and improve mental health and overall quality of life. Plus, it’s a great way to make new friends! Cappella Pueblo West has a walking group of residents that get together each day, listen to music and walk around the community. It’s a great way to get those steps in and stay engaged with each other.
Purposeful – Engaging in meaningful choices, serving, feeling valued, and sharing gifts with others.
As a society we underestimate the desire and need for older adults to have purpose. We expect them to just slow down and enjoy their golden years, but the fact remains that older adults who have a sense of purpose enjoy life more and stay healthier. Studies show that older adults with a sense of purpose are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop cognitive impairments.
Does this mean that having a sense of purpose is the twenty first century fountain of youth? Probably not, but it does help maintain motivation and a zest for life that keeps us young at heart and enjoying our lives to the fullest. This is why the residents of Cappella Pueblo West are so involved in the activities and programming at our community. This is their home and their opinions matter.
Spiritual – Nurturing the soul, spirit and emotional well-being by connecting to our purpose, values and beliefs.
Let’s not forget about spiritual wellness. For some this may mean religion, for others it may be some other form of spirituality. Spirituality becomes a bigger part of many people’s lives as they get older. According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine on the role of religion/spirituality in older adults, “spirituality and/or belief can have numerous positive outcomes for older adults including enhanced health and well-being, greater capacity to cope, social support, and opportunities to participate in society.”
A common misconception about community living is that once a resident arrives, they are at the mercy of someone else. In our community, residents enjoy the freedom to choose what they want to do. Our Purposeful Living Wellness Pillar is reflected in the life enrichment calendar which is full of activities, classes, events and excursions suggested, developed and often led by residents. The empowerment generated by this type of decision-making encourages ownership within the community and new growth within oneself. Social Connections are fostered through activities such as book clubs and restaurant outings, while prayer and religious studies can pave the way toward Spiritual Growth.
Visit Cappella of Pueblo West and discover how community living can enhance your life and bring new opportunities for purpose and growth!