Active Aging: Optimizing Opportunities for Health, Wellness, and Participation

According to the article, Active Aging: A Global Goal by Rocío Fernández-Ballesteros, et al. (2013), defines active aging as an “umbrella concept embracing a semantic space in which healthy, successful, or productive aging are strongly related.” Active aging was defined for the first time in 2002 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a booklet, Active Aging. A policy framework, as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security, in order to enhance quality of life and wellbeing as people age.” But what does this really mean? The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) states that active aging “promotes the vision of all individuals – regardless of age, socioeconomic status or health – fully engaging in life within all seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, intellectual/cognitive, physical, professional/vocational, social and spiritual.”

There is information and resources available from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere that people aging with and into disability can use to maintain active aging. For example, NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 100 articles in the NARIC collection on active aging that include:

  • The Information/education page: Physical activity recommendations for the aging brain: A clinician-patient guide, from the NIDILRR-funded project Walking and its Effect on Health and Function in Individuals with Cerebral Palsy as they Transition to Adulthood: A Health Outcomes Study, is designed to guide healthcare professionals in providing physical activity recommendations for older adult patients, including older adults with cognitive disabilities, during an office visit. The guide offers information on setting achievable physical activity goals, developing a patient-centered active lifestyle plan, and monitoring for physical adjustments at medical office visits. It also discusses how having this conversation between physician and patient has been shown to enhance physical activity levels among older adult patients with cognitive disabilities.
  • Supporting active aging for persons with severe disabilities and their families across the life course examines the complexity of needs and supports of both the person with a severe disability and their families as they age, using the Charting the LifeCourse (CtLC) framework and planning tools. This framework provides a set of guiding principles for decision making, problem solving, and strategic thinking for policy, practice, and systems change. People with severe disabilities and their families may engage in person-centered and family-centered planning for aging using a life course view. The article also discusses issues that impact active and healthy aging for people disabilities, including the aging of caregivers, death of a caregiver, limited resources for supporting physical and health concerns, staying active in the community following retirement, and maintaining social and emotional connections.

NARIC’s information specialists also found organizations that help older Americans with and without disabilities in maintaining active aging:

  • Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with information on senior services, including healthcare, transportation, support services, housing, and elder rights. Caregivers may find support through Eldercare’s Caregiver Corner. One may search for providers and/or services by zip code, city, or state.
  • The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) is a public health practice and resource center on health promotion for people with disabilities, including older people. They provide disability specific information regarding physical activity, nutrition, and lifestyle weight management, along with web-based health promotion programs inclusive to all users of all abilities. NCHPAD also has information for healthcare providers and fitness and wellness providers on encouraging older adults to remain active.
  • The Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are run by and for people with disabilities and offer support, advocacy, and information on empowerment in achieving independence from a peer viewpoint. Your local CIL can help you find the resources and information that you need to live as independently as possible and to age actively. You can find your local CIL by clicking on your state.

These are just a few examples of the information and resources available from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere. If you would like more resource, contact NARIC’s information specialists by chat and email.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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