Keeping Happiness Alive
Updated: May 18
Article by Karen Blatzer, Director of Marketing at Clark-Lindsey Village
As part of Mental Health Awareness month, I’ve asked an expert to share her insights into aging with lifelong happiness. For nearly a decade, Karen Blatzer has helped older adults thrive within Clark-Lindsey Village by supporting opportunities for purpose, autonomy, continued growth, and developing meaningful relationships. -- Peter
Our happiness is just as important as we age, as it was in our younger years. In fact, happiness is a key component to how long we may live.
In his book, Live Long, Die Short, Roger Landry, MD, MPH, explains years of research led to discovering only 30% of how we age is based on our genetics. The other 70% is determined by the daily lifestyle choices we make regarding our wellbeing. As humans, we need four components of wellbeing: social, intellectual, physical and spiritual. When we incorporate all four components into our lives on a daily basis we tend to be happier and live longer. Who doesn’t want a long, happy, meaningful life with purpose? While meaningful life is different for every individual, it is fostered by close relationships, a philosophy of continued growth, and the opportunity to give back.
As we plan our futures, and/or help plan the futures of our loved ones, we may explore living in a retirement community. Make sure at least four components of wellbeing are incorporated into all programming and life enrichment activities.
Social Connectedness means feeling involved and having a sense of belonging somewhere. A connection to the past, present, and future.
Connecting with others significantly affects how successfully we age. People who have healthy relationships and a strong social network respond better to stress. This reduction in stress and anxiety results in a healthier endocrine system, cardiovascular functioning and an enhanced immune system, decreasing our chances for diseases including: heart disease, cancer, dementia, and depression. The odds are greater of dying earlier of loneliness than excessive drinking, obesity or air pollution.
In addition to connecting with peers, there is also great value in intergenerational relationships and having pets.
Intellectual Wellness encourages learning and includes cognitive activities that simulate, promote, and maintain mental growth.
Reading, crossword puzzles, sudoku, playing a game, learning a foreign language or a new instrument are steps to take to increase intellectual wellness. Involvement in such activities help inspire exploration and stimulate curiosity. Curiosity is important because it motivates us to try new things and develop an understanding of how we see the relationship between ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Physical Wellness is a balance of exercise, proper nutrition, hygiene, medical care, rest, relaxation and abstaining from harmful behaviors. Positive physical health habits can help decrease stress, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and increase energy, confidence & self-esteem.
Steps to take to help improve physical wellness include: maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in muscle strengthening involving major muscles at least twice a week, eating nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, and getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Spiritual Fulfillment is the human quest for personal meaning and mutually fulfilling relationships among people, nature, and for some, God. Generally, when we fill our lives with meaning and purpose, there is harmony for ourselves and those around us.
Ways to improve your spiritual wellness can include: yoga, travel, meditation, positive thinking, prayer, journaling, volunteering, gardening and connecting to the outdoors.
Keep these four components of wellbeing in mind as you research retirement communities.
What you want now may not be what you need in 5-10 years. A community that offers different levels of care and support may be the best match for your future needs. Once you make the move and invest your time and energy into building relationships, you may not want to move again later to another community that offers more care.
You’re looking for more than your next home. You need a home with a built-in support system, socialization, programming, fitness center with pool and other amenities that fit within your lifestyle and budget. Make sure you know the lingo. Understand the different types of communities and levels of care available or if they are a continuing care or life plan community.
To learn more about the different levels of care, click here.
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About the Author
Karen Blatzer joined Clark-Lindsey in 2014 to ensure current and prospective clients are aware of the comprehensive services available to individuals who have reached retirement age and/or are in need of long-term health care. She is committed to helping older adults thrive by supporting opportunities for purpose, autonomy, continued growth and close, meaningful relationships. Karen promotes opportunities for older adults and staff to have meaningful engagement and relationships with others inside and outside the Clark-Lindsey community.
About Clark-Lindsey Village, Inc.
Established in 1978, Clark-Lindsey Village is the area’s only nonprofit life plan community. It is located on 27 acres in southeast Urbana, and is connected to Meadowbrook Park. It offers independent living in The Village, with 131 apartments and 16 villas. The campus has a state-of-the-art Wellness Center, complete with an indoor pool for fitness and recreation. Meadowbrook Health Center at Clark-Lindsey provides long-term skilled nursing care. Renewal Therapy Center, within Meadowbrook Health Center, provides short-term skilled nursing care, inpatient and outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapies. Additionally, two Green House Homes offering care in a small home model. One is assisted living specializing in memory care and the other is licensed skilled care. For more information, call Clark-Lindsey at 217-344-2144.
About Peter Newman & Peak Wealth Planning
Peter Newman is a Chartered Financial Advisor (CFA) and president of Peak Wealth Planning. He works with individuals nationwide that have accumulated wealth through company stock, ESOP shares, real estate, or running a business. Peter applies his unique background to help clients achieve their specific goals and enjoy peace of mind.
Peak Wealth Planning provides concierge services to meet your wealth management needs. Services include: financial planning, investment management, esop diversification, retirement income, insurance and estate planning advice, Peak Wealth Planning is a fee only financial advisor based in Champaign, Illinois.