Active Aging Week 2015: Living the adventure of life
This week, thousands of organizations nationwide are joining together to participate in Active Aging Week. Led by International Council on Active Aging, this weeklong health-promotion campaign calls attention to and wholeheartedly celebrates the positivity of aging.
Active Aging Week challenges society's diminished expectations of aging by showing that, regardless of age or health conditions, older adults can live as fully as possible in all areas of life—physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, vocational and environmental. The objective of the annual health-promotion event is to give as many older adults as possible the means to experience wellness activities and exercise in a safe, supportive environment.
Local hosts spread the positive messages of Active Aging Week, energizing their communities with experiences that fit their populations and foster well-being and growth. In settings across the active-aging spectrum, professionals, organizations and older adults “rev up” their creativity to plan and present offerings. Because the observance is a national campaign, plenty of resources are available to help.
For event hosts, a featured theme suggests a focus for the week's marketing and programming. In 2015, Active Aging Week picks up from last year's distinctive and popular theme, “Let the adventure begin,” to exhort professionals and participants to “Live your adventure.”
Hosts shape the experience
For those who host Active Aging Week events, one of the unique (and fun) things about the campaign is its flexibility. Hosts decide how they will participate. Will they offer one event or many? On one day, three days, or all? Will they focus on a specific wellness dimension on a specific day of the week? Or a broad mix of opportunities throughout their schedule? And will they partner with other groups to broaden their outreach or mobilize in-house to go it alone?
Over the years, events have taken place in all kinds of locations—for example senior living communities, hospitals and health clubs, malls and municipal buildings, as well as parks, YMCAs and recreation centers. Not to mention activities provided on rivers and lakes (boats, sailing ships, canoes and kayaks) as well as in the air (ziplines, hang gliders, planes, helicopters and hot air balloons).
Veteran hosts learn from each Active Aging Week experience and challenge themselves to create ever-more exciting lineups to attract participants. New activities are introduced (indoor skydiving!), with returning ones often refreshed. Some mainstays include dances, field trips, group walks, brain games, fitness classes and demonstrations, exercise challenges, health fairs and educational seminars, all reimagined and reinterpreted by individual hosts.
ICAA gives event organizers just three key guidelines. Activities should be:
- free to low cost for older adults, ensuring cost is no barrier to participation,
- educational and
- provided in a safe, no-pressure atmosphere that's friendly and fun.
No matter whether you are organizing or participating in your first Active Aging Week or your 13th, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself. Live the adventure with your residents/members and colleagues. Positive life experiences are what this celebration is all about.
Colin Milner is CEO of the International Council on Active Aging.