International Council on Active Aging calls on its members, associates and society at large to emphasize wellness.
As the populations of the world emerge from the pandemic year, no one believes that life will return to the way it was before COVID-19 shifted reality. During this transformative time, organizations and agencies can seize the opportunity to move beyond crisis management and develop a new, vibrant model to meet the needs and lifestyles of today’s older adult.
“Now is the time that we can come together to reclaim our lives and businesses,” says Colin Milner, CEO International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry.
ICAA has issued a Call to Action to inspire this transformation, urging its members, associates and society at large to heed the Call.
ICAA Call to Action: Reclaim health and well-being for older people by integrating wellness throughout all organizational strategies and operations.
Wellness is an antidote to the feelings of anxiety, loneliness and grief that harried many people during the social isolation and personal losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wellness offers support groups, counseling and physically safe gatherings for spiritual, intellectual, cultural and social interactions, all of which lessen loneliness and build resilience (1,2).
Healthy aging means having the functional ability that enables well-being at older ages (World Health Organization). The wellness dimensions frame the cognitive, physical, social and psychological abilities for functioning in everyday life, whether daily life entails a walk to the bank, managing personal finances, conversing with a coworker, completing self-care activities or setting up a video call with family members (3-5).
Negative, ageist stereotypes can afflict older adults, resulting in social isolation, poor mental health and reduced physical health. Wellness opportunities and programs have a purpose well beyond entertainment. Wellness brings together younger and older generations, promotes volunteering and lifelong learning, showcases highly skilled artists, educators and businesspeople—all of these reclaim older adults as valuable contributors to society (6).
Counteract misunderstandings about the value proposition of senior living and senior services by showcasing how wellness guides a lifestyle of personal growth, effective health behaviors and safe, personalized care. Wellness culture and opportunities align with many organizational performance metrics by attracting and retaining customers/residents, generating referrals, reducing risks, delaying care needs and delivering the brand promise. Well-designed workforce wellness programs are a recruitment and retention benefit (7-10).
“The ICAA Call to Action to reclaim health and well-being for older people is a reflection of the theme Communities of Strength being celebrated during Older Americans Month 2021,” said Colin Milner, founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging. “Whether a resident in a senior living community or a person enjoying the amenities of a community center, older adults and the organizations that serve them did tremendous work to stay engaged, healthy and strong despite pandemic closures and isolation.”
To aid organizations and individuals in following the call, an implementation guide and pathways to wellness are available on the ICAA website.
Access the Call to Action, key messages, references, steps to implement the Call, pathways to wellness and a curated set of resources.
Personal choices combined with an organization’s thoughtful offerings empower older adults to experience their best possible lives. Join with ICAA and your colleagues to share, support and implement the ICAA Call to Action.
About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
ICAA is a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry and supports professionals who aspire to develop wellness cultures for adults over 50. This support includes creating wellness environments, programs and services. The association is focused on active aging—an approach to aging that helps older adults live life as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness—and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada’s Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia (Canada) Ministries of Health and Healthy Living and Sport.