Celebrating aging and the benefits of active living at any age, Active Aging Week showcases the capabilities of older adults as fully participating members of society. This campaign also spotlights role models that lead the way. Learn how you can join with thousands of Active Aging Week supporters to help change the way we age.
Tips from the field
Each year hosts organizations deliver a multitude of events and activities to celebrate Active Aging Week. They spread positive messages of aging, energizing their communities with experiences that fit their populations and foster well-being and growth. From biplane rides to culinary adventures, health fairs to educational lectures, art workshops to exercise classes, community walks to zipline adventures the weeklong observance provides opportunities aplenty for older adults to explore life's possibilities. What will you do to celebrate Active Aging Week? Be sure to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Inspiring wellness’: A taste of Active Aging Week 2018
Below are snapshot experiences of Active Aging Week in five host organizations last year.
During Active Aging Week 2018, Watermark Retirement Communities highlighted its year-round focus on purposeful living and on serving the greater good as a key component of older-adult wellness. Residents and associates dedicated 2,600 hours to developing and executing the week’s programs throughout the 51 communities that Watermark operates. “[W]e took a variety of programs to area senior centers and invited the public to our communities for complimentary exercise and nutrition sessions,” said Watermark Director of Strategic Innovation Tammy Farris. “Our residents also demonstrated how seniors enrich society by sharing their expertise and talents with others, and that they benefit in return.”
Among the many physical fitness programs for the public were a Wellness Marathon at The Fountains at The Albemarle in Tarboro, North Carolina. The program offered sessions on standing and seated yoga, health screenings, line dancing and guided meditation, as well as a discussion with a nutritionist, a smoothie bar and a healthy lunch. Volunteer activities included residents and associates of The Hacienda at the River, located in Tucson, working on creative projects with students from the tuition-free Imago Dei Middle School, which serves children from low-income families. In St. Petersburg, Florida, residents at The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay teamed with charity Scarlett’s Sunshine to bring handmade caps for premature infants, lunch and encouragement to families at area Ronald McDonald Houses.
For residents of The Cardinal at North Hills in Raleigh, North Carolina, Active Aging Week featured birds, books and balloon volleyball. Participants ventured to Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, a town in eastern Halifax County, where they enjoyed a private tour and a picnic lunch. The visit to Sylvan Heights, known for its large waterfowl collection, was both “educational and entertaining,” the community’s Facebook page reported. Some other activities included a cooking demonstration, a discussion on spirituality and aging, a book club program, as well as line dancing, balloon volleyball and dinner at the award-winning Bloomsbury Bistro, shared Wellness Director Susan Drury-Rohner. Finally, The Cardinal hosted Kim Campbell, widow of singer Glen Campbell, in a keynote speech and reception attended by residents and their family members. This inspiring talk focused on the Campbells’ journey with Alzheimer’s disease, their decision to continue living full lives, and the national conversation that accompanied the late singer’s farewell tour and film.
To celebrate Active Aging Week at La Posada in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Wellness Director Rick Minichino coordinated seven days of events and activities. Among the highlights were an Uptown Art acrylics group painting class (with a strong social focus) on Monday, a Healthy Breakfast cooking demonstration and a Memory and Aging lecture, and a Health Fair on Wednesday. The week ended with a round of Mini Golf and lunch at Café Sole in nearby Jupiter.
Instead of a health fair at Granby Senior Center in Granby, Connecticut, Program Coordinator Lori Blackburn felt inspired to plan an indoor carnival for Active Aging Week 2018. “I wanted people to be up and moving in an interactive atmosphere,” Blackburn commented. The carnival took place Wednesday, September 26, with its eight sponsors manning games or food booth activity. The day included “a basketball hot shot game, soccer goal game, ring toss, bean bag toss and ‘match the swimming ducks’ [duck matching game],” with prizes awarded to the winners. Food booths included a continental breakfast bar, smoothie station, salad bar and potato bar. The center also hosted two seminars. “Our attendees were engaged and most stayed for several hours playing the games by themselves, and oftentimes challenging their friends to see who did the best,” Blackburn said. “Feedback from the attendees as well as our sponsors was very positive.”
And, in the United Kingdom, the University of Worcester hosted a successful Active Ageing Week last year, according to Dr. Clare Rhoden, sports psychologist and principal lecturer, Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Workshops and public talks took place during the week, and the university gave new participants a free “taste” of its existing Seniors Physical Activity and Adapted Sports program. These participants tried activities such as walking netball, ladies’ fitness, men’s fitness, and walking football [soccer]. Some individuals returned to continue the program after Active Aging Week.
The most popular events, Rhoden observed, included a fitness testing session and the closing talk, “Growing Old Actively.” In that talk, guest speaker Alexas Rotas “gave some wonderful messages about what the older body can achieve and stimulated lots of discussion afterwards,” Rhoden noted. Finally, a photography competition was held to showcase active aging in daily life. Worcester photographer Sylvia Herbert won the contest with her photograph of dragon boat racing on the River Severn. Sports Partnership Herefordshire and Worcestershire sponsored both Active Aging Week and the competition’s prizes.
Here are other Active Aging Week events shared by host organizations.
An open house for the 55+
Individuals explored healthy aging during Active Aging Day at The Wellness Institute, powered by Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The day featured testing and screenings, group exercise classes, five-minute massages, exhibits in the gym, live music and a farmers market. Among other things, the Institute’s Rehabilitation & Sports Injury Clinic and the Active Living Coalition for Older Adults in Manitoba (ALCOA Manitoba) demonstrated exercises and activities (e.g., fly fishing). Educational highlights included “The Power of Prevention” keynote by former wellness consultant Gail Pollard, MD, delivered to a full room; and a health talk on preventing and managing back pain. The Institute’s Active Aging Ambassadors were on hand to inspire and encourage participants. ALCOA Manitoba also actively promotes Active Aging Week participation each year, connecting older adults with community events across the province.
A week of wellness
At La Posada in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Active Aging Week kicked off with a Monday morning health fair. Attendees gained information on different aspects of wellness, and opportunities to win raffle prizes. On Tuesday, Lisa Ochs, DPT, and La Posada Director of Rehabilitation Linda Borgmeyer, OTRIL, gave a presentation on how residents could stay strong and active, which was followed by a sampling of healthy appetizers. Residents could also try an acrylics painting class, watch a chair yoga demonstration by Peilin Ko of Eldermusik, and go for a sea glass hunt on the beach followed by lunch at Café Sole.
A week of workouts
24Hr Fitness, with headquarters in San Ramon, California, offered a free seven-day pass to guests ages 50 and beyond who came into one of the chain’s clubs for Active Aging Week 2017. Participants could enjoy free workouts, including Silver&Fit and SilverSneakers group-exercise classes. In the end, more than 1,000 classes took place in 300 locations nationwide.
A partnership expands options
Celebrating Active Aging Week a little early, nine organizations in Western North Carolina—including longtime local host Area Agency on Aging, Land of Sky Regional Council—partnered to present a week of events. Among the activities to kick off the week on The Monday was “Healthy Aging Day” at the Reuter Family YMCA in Asheville. The day featured health screenings and workshops, plus exercise and food demonstrations, among other things. Other events during the week focused on safety, security, Medicare, health education, management of pain and diabetes, falls prevention, and creativity. The week wound to a close with “Walk With Purpose,” a community walk and discussion connecting participants with AARP in the Mountain Region; and with the fundraiser “Over the Edge for the Council on Aging of Buncombe County.” Fundraiser participants each raised USD$1,000 for the thrill of rappelling down a seven-story Asheville building. .
An invitation to participate
Seeland Park in Grinnell, Iowa, opened its group exercise classes to the public for Active Aging Week, inviting adults ages 55+ to participate in fitness sessions ranging from seated classes for any fitness level to high-energy line dancing. The community invited the local Senior Meals group to participate in the week’s daily activities as well, noted Julie Klein, fitness specialist for Seeland Park and its healthcare center St. Francis Manor. These activities included a line-dancing session with “The Parkettes” (“a huge hit”), a games competition with prizes, a kazoo band, a popular mile walk around campus, and a closing celebration. In her host report, Klein related that one centenarian who participated in the games competition didn’t think she could play the games (water balloon and bean bag toss) but she was persuaded to give them a try—only to win first prize!
A health fair with takeaways
In Redwood City, California, nearly 500 people wearing purple Active Aging Week T-shirts took part in Adaptive Physical Education’s seventh annual Active Aging Week Health Fair, held at Veterans Memorial Senior Center. A healthy breakfast and walk launched the week. Among other offerings were blood pressure and blood glucose testing, circuit workouts, badminton, chair yoga, gardening, immunizations (for participants and pets), health and travel presentations, and a music trivia dance-a-thon. According to APE, “Participants went home with … a senior exercise CD, newly potted plants and instructions, a small flashlight, travel guides, personal health information, better balance, flu shots, healthy pets, health education and a dance in their step.”
A week of fun, games and learning
At Warwick Forest Retirement Community in Newport News, Virginia, a cornhole (bean bag toss) tournament helped “ignite” residents’ passions before Active Aging Week officially began. The friendly competition on September 14 brought team members and supporters from sister community Patriot’s Colony, in Williamsburg, to the campus. To the delight of Warwick Forest fans, the home team won. Active Aging Week featured a mindfulness workshop, a craft fair spotlighting residents’ creativity, and a “Paint & Wine” night, where residents enjoyed a glass of wine while creating autumn-themed artworks under the instruction of Create&Carry with Amy Ziglar. Finally, interior designer Richard Lecours answered questions and offered tips during the “Organization for Small Spaces” workshop. “It was a big hit, and we’re planning another one,” commented Ashley Denney, fitness manager at Warwick Forest’s Riverside Fitness & Wellness Center, in her host report.
A showcase of talents
In East Norriton, Pennsylvania, Brightview Senior Living residents and associates also showcased their talents during Active Aging Week. The seventh annual Resident Art Show featured displays of acrylic and watercolor paintings, sketches, sculptures, stained glass, painted stemware, jewelry, needlework (knitting and crocheting), and a lot more. Showing their community spirit, some future residents contributed their artworks to the show, revealed Vibrant Living Director Elena Wilson.
A contemplative installation
Residents and visitors reflected on their aspirations with an art installation during Active Aging Week at The Highlands at Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Unveiled on the Monday the “As I Age” wall invited individuals to complete the sentence, “As I age I want to ______.” The Highlands were inspired by the As I Age/Before I Die global art project, which began when artist Candy Chang created the first wall on an abandoned house in New Orleans, Louisiana. Over 2,000 such walls now exist in 70 countries worldwide and in 35 languages, according to the senior living community. The ultimate aim for The Highlands’ installation was to initiate a conversation about living and aging well.
A satisfying experience
In 2017 Acts Retirement-Life Communities, headquartered in West Point, Pennsylvania, again supported Active Aging Week across its communities. From boat rides to beach walks, health fairs to talent shows, residents experienced fun, camaraderie and the joy of being active. Among the highlights, more than 100 residents from six communities took part in the 12th annual Northeast OlympiActs on the Friday, held at Southampton Estates in Southampton, Pennsylvania. Teams competed in 10 events, including Wii bowling, Jeopardy, walking relays, table tennis and pool. Ending the week at Azalea Trace in Pensacola, Florida, 60 older adults ascended 100 feet in a hot-air balloon ride. For Lyn Nutt, who turned 70 last year, it was an especially satisfying bucket-list experience.