Last week marked Active Aging Week (September 27 - October 3, 2015), an annual event that celebrates aging and active living. Each year, activities professionals at senior living communities plan a full schedule of events for residents. Senior centers and other event organizers also take advantage of a week designated specifically to celebrate living well in an effort to engage the senior citizens in their local communities and inspire them to live longer, healthier lives by remaining active and enjoying life.
"Live Your Adventure" the theme for 2015
Each year, the International Council on Active Aging, which initiated Active Aging Week in 2013, designates specific themes for each day during Active Aging Week and offers related resources to help event organizers plan fun, engaging events for the seniors in their communities. The over-arching theme for Active Aging Week 2015 is "Live Your Adventure," with specific themes for each day broken down as follows:
- Sunday, September 27th: Foot Health with the IPFH
- Monday, September 28th: The WALK! with Aegis Therapies Event
- Tuesday, September 29th: Say Hello! with CaptionCall
- Wednesday, September 30th: Take the Plunge with SwimEx
- Thursday, October 1st: Good Things Come from Sysco
- Friday, October 2nd: Get Skin Health Smart
Senior living communities and local event organizers took full advantage of the opportunity to get seniors up and moving last week, with many highlights reaching the news waves. The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, for example, celebrated all week long. In keeping with the theme of "Live Your Adventure," The Birches invited residents and anyone involved in The Birches community to partake in their own personal adventures each day throughout the week.
The community's Activities Director, Katie Klitchman, created an exciting atmosphere by using decorations to turn the community into an exotic safari. A weeklong scavenger hunt complete with prizes, a "Moving to Music" session with Dance Therapist Gail Ann Bradshaw, discussion groups giving residents the opportunity to discuss what "adventure" means to them, and a variety of other opportunities rounded out the week of celebrations at The Birches.
In Yakima, Washington, seniors from Highgate Senior Living got a taste of adventure by testing out some ATVs at Owen's Harley Davidson, and later in the week had opportunities to learn the ins and outs of social networking and communication platforms like Facebook and Skype.
At the Peak Health and Wellness Center, seniors could take self-defense classes as part of Active Aging Week, taught by 5th-degree black belt in karate and personal trainer Don Johnson. Having basic self-defense skills can help seniors gain confidence so they can be more active in what has become a rather dangerous world. You can be sure these seniors won't be foregoing a walk to the local park or a stroll around the neighborhood out of fear—in fact, it's probably not a good idea to mess with these seniors who are now well-equipped to protect themselves against would-be offenders.
Overall, more than 3,000 major events were expected to take place for Active Aging Week 2015, which is celebrated throughout North America as well as in Finland and Australia. Many senior living communities participate in some way in Active Aging Week, with a broad range of activities designed to celebrate active aging, such as dances, tournaments, contests, exercise classes like yoga and Pilates, art classes, table tennis, and even events like indoor skydiving and hot-air balloon rides for the truly adventurous senior.
The only criteria for Active Aging Week events is that they are designed for older adults age 50 and older, are free or low-cost, educational in nature and provided in a safe, fun and friendly atmosphere. That opens the door to endless possibilities limited only by your imagination and creativity.
How did your community celebrate Active Aging Week 2015? We'd love to hear your stories and see your photos.