Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness refers to active participation in scholastic, cultural, and community activities. This is when we expand our knowledge and skills in order to live a more stimulating, purposeful life. This is especially important in our senior years. One of the main concerns of older adults is their cognitive health, but brain health is something we need to be focusing on at all ages. Our brains reach full developmental maturity at the age of 25, and our brain mass starts to decline at age 27. Although this is a natural process, we can rebuild and protect our brains by engaging in lifelong learning. When we learn a skill or try something new, our neurons are activated and strengthen. The ability of our minds to change and adapt is referred to as brain plasticity.

Our brains, like our bodies, need exercise. Here are some ways you can exercise your mind to increase your intellectual wellness at your senior living community.

•      Learn a foreign language, you can do this daily with free with apps on your phone

•      Read a book for a least 10 minutes a day, RUI is continuously updating our libraries so be sure to check out the new selections

•      Attend all RUI University lectures no matter the topic, this will foster  curiosity and enhance your overall knowledge  

•      Engage with puzzles and brain games like Sudoku or the community crossword activities

Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Creative Wellness

Creative wellness was the final dimension of wellness to be added to this framework. Although creativity is mostly thought of for being a fun way to express yourself, it is also an essential component of well-being. Your senior living community is an ideal place to embrace your creativity and work towards holistic health. Here are some easy tips and tricks to work towards increasing your creative wellness.

1.) Create a Living Space that Fosters Creativity

Creating a space that fosters creativity is both fun and easy! Fill your apartment with items you love, and that inspire you. This could include pieces of art, house plants, teacups you think are beautiful, or your favorite quotes. Adding more color to your apartment can also make a difference as the blue and orange hues have been shown to increase creative thinking. Make sure to clean and reduce any clutter in your rooms so your mind will not get distracted.

2.) Have an Open Door Policy

Socializing with the people around you is one of the best ways to spark a creative thought! When we interact with others, we can bounce ideas off each other and learn something new or see something from a different perspective. Next time you are experiencing an artistic block sit in a shared space and converse with the people around you!

3.) No Judgement

One of the reasons we do not practice creativity is t fear and judgment. More often than not, this is not from other people but from ourselves judging our own ideas prematurely. Stop thinking and just create! You will be surprised by what beautiful works of art you can produce. If your project does not turn out how you imagined it, be gentle with yourself and try try again!

Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness is defined as “being connected to something greater than yourself and having a set of values, principles, morals, and beliefs that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life, then using those principles to guide your actions.” Spiritual Wellness is many times the most personal component of the nine dimensions of wellness, but rest assured there is no wrong way to practice spirituality.  Here are some tips and tricks to help you to reflect on your experiences and reconnect with your spiritual side.

 

Meditation

Meditation is the act of cleaning and clearing your mind. You can think of this practice like a toothbrush for the brain! Meditation has been shown to have an immediate effect on our health. By completing one 15 minute meditation, we can see a 22% decrease in mind-wandering and after one month of daily practice, you will benefit from a 14% increase in focus. Meditation helps to reduce stress and improve sleep quality.

Meditating can seem like a daunting task, and it does take practice! The important thing to remember is to sit up straight and allow your mind to wander. You can find many programs that can help you start. My favorites include apps like calm, insight timer, and headspace. You can even get free, guided meditations on YouTube. Start with three minutes and work your way up to the goal of 15 minutes of meditation morning and night.

You could even start a meditation club in your senior living community to keep yourself and your fellow residents accountable!

 

Community

Community is an integral part of our spiritual wellness. Many times when we experience great loss or heartache, we isolate ourselves in the name of internal processing. This can affect our health as loneliness has been proven to increase the risk of depression and cardiovascular disease and negatively effects our immune system.

We combat loneliness through quality connection and intentional relationships. One of the best ways to build these relationships is by finding a community who shares your values. This way, you have people to process life with. You can find these kindred spirits through church groups, support groups, or by seeking out like-minded individuals in your community.

Journaling

Keeping a journal allows us to reflect on our lives and process through both big and small changes. Journaling is a healthy practice as it promotes creativity, increases gratitude, encourages spiritual growth, and allows us to improve our communication with others.

Starting a journal can seem overwhelming, but it is as easy as writing down what you did today! If you experience writer's block try these journaling prompts

1.           What activities did you do today?

2.           What do you love about your life?

3.           What is one new thing you learned today?

4.           Doodle to your heart's content

Spiritual wellness can be cultivated both individually and in a group setting. By reflecting on our lives, we can create meaningful connections, increase our gratitude, promote health and wellness, and engage in purposeful living.

Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Environmental Wellness

Our environment affects our health and includes our time spent both indoors and outdoors. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to increase your health and wellness by creating a healthy environment indoors and outdoors at your senior living community.

 

Organize your Apartment

A clean space has a huge effect on our overall health. By creating a comfortable and organized environment, we can feel less stressed and decrease our cortisol levels. One of the biggest barriers to living a healthy and balanced life is time. By keeping our apartments clean and tidy it frees up more time for activities you enjoy, like walking or social activities. A clean and neat bedroom has been shown to increase your chances of a good night sleep by 19%. This is because we can rest and unwind without the distraction of clutter.

 

Fill your Room with Plants

People who live closer to nature feel happier, and what is closer than the room you are living in? Plants release oxygen and clean the air of carbon dioxide. Their effects have even been shown to boost the immune system during flu season! Scent is one of our most powerful senses, so having flowers in our apartment can give you a mood boost or evoke a memory!

 

Get Outside

A research study from the University of Michigan proved that walking outside is linked to lowered depression and stress. When we are outside, we get a chance to soak up vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D improves our bone health, mood, sleep, and immune system. Although sun exposure can be a good thing, too much sun can hurt our health. Before going outside, it is recommended to apply sunscreen on your skin. This sunscreen should be at least 30 SPF. Going outside also benefits the health of our eyes. By spending your time outdoors and not in front of a TV screen, you can prevent headaches and blurred vision.

Our environment has an enormous effect on our health. So make sure to organize your living space, fill your room with plants, and get outdoors. These tips will help you to maintain a healthier lifestyle at your senior living community!

Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Physical Wellness

Physical Wellness is important at all ages. Physical wellness includes taking care of our bodies to support overall health. When people think of physical wellness, they usually focus on exercise. Movement is extremely important, but being physically well is about balancing our exercise, nutrition, and sleep to make sure our bodies achieve optimal health. Check out these tips and tricks to stay physically well in your senior living community.

 

Get Moving!

Exercise is an important component of physical health. It is recommended to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times a week. Aerobic exercise is when you get your heart rate up, this includes activities like walking, water aerobics, or even power vacuuming! When we exercise, we receive many health benefits, including better focus, a bigger hippocampus, which protects our long-term memory, and it makes us feel happier by giving a boost of serotonin. When your community has chair exercise on the schedule, take advantage of the time to move!

 

Eat Clean

Food is fuel. We don’t put bad fuel in our cars, so we need to monitor what we eat. The most important thing to consider in our diets is balance. We need to be eating from all the food groups. Intuitive eating is when you listen to your body and eat only when you are hungry and what your body needs. If you are dehydrated, drink water and eat fruit. If you have low energy, eat whole grains to give yourself an energy boost. We need to reconnect with our physicality and pay attention to what our body needs. Try listening to your body next time before dinner and ordering food your body is craving.

 

Sleep and Rest

We cannot ignore the power of rest and relaxation on our health. When we sleep, it allows our body to repair itself. It also moves all of our short term memory into our long-term memory. It is recommended for adults to get 7-9 hours of sleep. To get better sleep follow these tips.

1.)        Wake up and go to sleep at the same time. This gets our body into the rhythm and routine.

2.)         Take a break from your phone and TV screens an hour before bed. Screens emit blue light that stops the secretion of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us sleepy. If you do enjoy TV before bed,  get blue light blocking glasses or set your phone to night shift mode.

3.)        If you cannot fall asleep try listening to white noise by turning on a fan or rain sounds, it will help you not to focus on your to-do list for tomorrow and drift off to dreamland!

Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Social Wellness

The World Health Organization defines wellness as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." There are nine different dimensions of wellness. Each dimension interacts with the others and plays a part in our overall health.

Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. Social support is extremely important. When we create quality connections and surround ourselves with positive people, we are more likely to share our successes and trials and open up about our feelings, this increases our self-esteem and allows us to live more authentically.

 

3 Tips for increasing your social wellness at your senior living community  

1.)      Plan the Way you Socialize to Fit your Personality

We all have different personalities and preferences. One of the major aspects of personality includes how we recharge and socialize. Those who are more extroverted prefer to recharge around people. Extroverts need constant interaction to gain energy. It is important for extroverts to get out of their room and attend highly engaging activities like a Mix & Mingle or group games!

Introverts need more time alone to recharge and renew. This does not mean that introverts should be in their rooms all day. It is important that introverts socialize with other residents. To recharge and increase your social wellness, try attending activities that like art projects and RUI university classes that allow you to bond with residents with the same interests but also complete an individual task in a quieter environment.

To identify whether you are an introvert or extrovert figure out your personality, take this assessment here!

 

2.)      Get to Know your Fellow Residents over a Meal

Food brings people together! A meal is a wonderful time to chat one on one with someone you do not know! Today, I heard a story from one of the residents at our Ashleigh at Lansdowne community. He shared that he had recently enjoyed dinner with a new resident. After talking with her, he learned they were from Western Pennsylvania and were born in the same town. It’s a small world! By asking questions and sharing your story will often find you have something in common and might even make a new friend!

  

3.)      Try Something New!

There is a lot to do in an RUI community! We believe in purposeful living and the importance of intentional resident-driven programming. Trying new things not only promotes cognitive health but provides the perfect environment to bond and create a lasting social connection.