Humans are more than physical beings, but we devote most of our time to ensuring that our bodies function before considering the other factors — spirit, mind, outlook — that influence who we are and how we feel.
Taking a more holistic approach to living is at the core of RTOERO’s advocacy program, Vibrant Voices, addressing the welfare of older Canadians physically, mentally and spiritually.
Holistic advocacy begins at home. We safeguard our homes to keep young children or pets safe. We groom properties to avoid accidents on walkways. We offer guests good food, a nice environment and camaraderie. Yet we often fail to take care of our own needs as we age.
Here are some ways that you can advocate, holistically, for yourself — and for your family, your friends and your community.
Aging well at home
The better we plan our aging journey, the more likely we are to enjoy it. The Government of Canada website A Safe Living Guide: A Guide to Home Safety for Seniors is a good starting point. In the spirit of aging well at home, this guide is simple, intelligent and helps Canadians prepare for living well throughout their older years. The content champions home safety, inside and outside; physical health and activity; and mental health and activity — respecting the whole person. bit.ly/3wAVJrB
Health and happiness
Dr. Keri-Leigh Cassidy founded Fountain of Health (fountainofhealth.ca), a national program for older people that promotes mental health to reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognitive function. Through science-based research, Cassidy and her colleagues have identified five lifestyle factors that maximize your health and happiness as you age:
- Physical activity
- Social activity
- Challenging the brain in new ways
- Taking care of mental health
- Positive thinking about aging
Research suggests that 15 minutes of light, physical exercise daily may increase life expectancy by three years and that positive thinking about aging can promote life expectancy by seven and a half years. Cassidy spoke at an RTOERO webinar about aging and mental well-being in November 2021. To watch or listen to the webinar, visit rtoero.ca/webinar-paths-to-wellness-for-older-persons-body-mind-spirit.
Take control of your future
The federal government’s Thinking About Your Future? Plan Now to Age in Place: A Checklist is a holistic how-to offered in collaboration with the provinces and territories. The checklist helps you measure the degree to which you’re ready to age well at home with an eye to sorting out what you can do now to maintain your health and independence for as long as possible. Content covers a number of critical factors — from safe homes to physical and mental health to age-friendly communities — and includes a useful bibliography. bit.ly/3D7ECQG
Advocate for tomorrow
The spirit of advocacy starts at home but goes beyond to influence family and friends to ensure you live in an age-friendly community. Consult municipal leaders to see what programs are underway in your area. Not much? Consider advocating for age-friendly initiatives in your community. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) identifies the attributes of an age-friendly community and how to focus your advocacy efforts. bit.ly/3wzfyQd
A winning strategy means planning ahead. As Walter Gretzky advised Wayne, “Skate to where the puck is going.” To discover more about RTOERO’s advocacy programs, visit rtoero.ca/vibrant-voices.