The benefits of the Six Dimensions of Wellness are best felt by older adults when they overlap. As we’ve seen throughout this series, combining elements of social, emotional, spiritual, community engagement, intellectual and physical wellness creates more meaningful experiences and a greater sense of self.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Revera’s Chief Medical Officer, says the best medical approach to healthy aging is one that focuses on the individual as a whole. “Traditional medicine focuses on symptoms and disease while the holistic approach considers all aspects of the person’s life and attempts to bring them into balance.”
Dr. Collins’ passion for working with older adults goes beyond just wanting to treat illnesses. “Sometimes physical symptoms are not the result of a disease or illness, but manifestations of an emotional or psychological issue like stress or grief. For instance, memory loss can be a symptom of depression, which could be left untreated if we focus on the memory loss as a disease process,” she says.
People often define older adults by what they can’t do instead of what they are capable of. The reality is much different, as many people can find their later years some of the most fulfilling, especially when they have a positive outlook on aging.
“There are studies that demonstrate that self-perceptions about aging are important indicators of our cognitive and physical function. People who have positive attitudes toward aging stay mentally, physically and psychologically stronger than those who have negative attitudes,” says Dr. Collins.
As we age, it’s important to take care of our physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual selves. Humans are complex beings and there are many layers that make up who we are as individuals. The Six Dimensions of Wellness are designed to strengthen each of these parts, so retirement can be our golden years.
Dr. Collins’ advice for living the Six Dimensions of Wellness:
- Physical – Be active every day, eat healthy foods and sleep well.
- Intellectual – Take a course, learn a language, journal your experiences.
- Social – Join a club, travel, visit friends and family.
- Community Engagement – Volunteer, get involved with local projects, attend public meetings.
- Emotional – Be aware of your thoughts and feelings, recognize stress and develop coping strategies to deal with it.
- Spiritual – Live your life with purpose, meditate, practice mindfulness exercises like yoga or Tai Chi, practice your faith if you are religious.