Are we healthy?

By Pat Goyeche

Keeping Healthy

Left to right: Micheline Boyle, Anne LeDressay, David Sims, Kris Belanger (instructor) and Natasha Hollbach “keeping healthy”. Photo: Pat Goyeche

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Health is something we tend to take for granted until something goes wrong or our knees act up when we run, or our eyes refuse to read the fine print (somewhere around our 40th birthday). Before that, unless we have had a health crisis, we tend to be blissfully unaware of physical health, and only peripherally aware of our mental and social well-being, which is wrapped up in the general health report card.

Working with adults 55+ has been my vocation since I was 20-something. Now approaching 50-something, my interaction with the “older crowd” has taken on even more meaning. My understanding of the importance and full meaning of health has aged along with me and the people I work with.

Abbotsford is a “community leisure and resource centre,” and as such, is committed to the WHO definition of health. We look at the whole person and try to provide programming and services that keep the promotion of health at the forefront.

Physical health will decline with lack of mobility, and aging naturally challenges the body. We have to meet the challenge head on – muscle density, range of motion and balance are all in need of maintenance – which is why continued fitness classes at the appropriate levels are so important.

Mental heath can be challenged by our disposition, genetic makeup and exposure to new challenges. Many of us boomers have a visceral fear of the mental challenges of aging, and wonder what we can do to keep ourselves mentally keen well into our 80s and 90s. Once again, participation in organized programming such as learning a new skill (bridge, Spanish, a musical instrument) or taking up a new creative activity (art, pottery, calligraphy) is key to stimulating, “growing” and maintaining our minds.

Social well-being is a bit more ephemeral. How do we define it? Isn’t it just natural? Why is it melded into the definition of health? We are social beings by nature (some more than others) but aging can inhibit our ability to interact with friends and family. We may not have family close by, we may not get along with the ones we have and “old” friends may be far-flung or no longer living. Creating new and different social bonds is essential and challenging as we age. We need to feel part of something, connected and cherished. Volunteerism, clubs and social groups all help to keep this up and give us our sense of purpose. This is important at any age but particularly after children have grown, and careers no longer define our day-to-day activity.

We all want good health and, like anything else good, we need to work towards getting and keeping it. Abbotsford at The Glebe Centre is one place where adults 55+ can find many types of activities, programs and resources to help facilitate healthy aging, which encompasses physical, mental and social well-being. We pride ourselves on being a place that encourages our members to enjoy life in a positive way that touches all the bases of “health.”

Please drop by and pick up our Winter Program Guide for 2013. Happy New Year and happy health to everyone from all of us at Abbotsford at The Glebe Centre, 950 Bank Street (the old stone house), 613-230-5730.

Pat Goyeche is Coordinator of Community Programs at Abbotsford at The Glebe Centre.

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