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A healthy lifestyle is vital for aging Virginians

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A healthy lifestyle is vital for aging Virginians

May 30, 2023 | 12:05 am ET
By Guest Column
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A healthy lifestyle is vital for aging Virginians
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As we celebrate Older Americans Month, we must prioritize overall wellness for our aging population. (Java at the Village of Erin Meadows: Photography by Dan Abramovici)

By Chris Henderson

As we celebrate Older Americans Month this May, it’s crucial to remember that the health and well-being of our aging population is critical to the well-being of our nation. With people living longer than ever before and America’s large baby boomer population, it’s essential to prioritize overall wellness for aging citizens to ensure they can live their best lives.

I have been working with older Virginians for more than 30 years and one challenge I see facing our aging population is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is a culmination of physical, mental and emotional well-being. As we age, our bodies undergo changes that, without support, can make it more difficult to perform everyday activities. This can lead to a loss of independence and a decline in overall well-being. However, it’s never too late to start prioritizing your overall health. Pursuing creative outlets, keeping your mind active, exercising, and managing stress is the foundation of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and can help prevent the onset of possible chronic conditions.

Cedarfield residents and team members worked together to create our ‘Pathways to Wellness’ program, and we are growing that program at each of our Pinnacle Living communities. Wellness is a critical aspect of health that is often overlooked when it comes to aging. The aging process can bring significant changes, such as the loss of loved ones, retirement and decreased social interactions. Because of this, it is crucial to prioritize mental health as we age by encouraging social interactions, providing access to mental health services, and promoting activities that can help maintain cognitive function. A good way to think about it is “brain fitness,” which is one pillar of our ‘Pathways to Wellness’ program.

Another key component of wellness for older adults is allowing for continued intellectual growth and creative expression. We encourage our residents’ artistic expression through programs like oil painting, woodworking, pottery and photography. By offering a purposeful, holistic approach to well-being and looking at the person as a whole, I feel it allows us to engage those we serve, where and how they want. I know this is so important to their overall happiness.

Finally, it’s essential to recognize the value and contributions of our aging population. As we work on our continued advocacy efforts with LeadingAge Virginia, an association of not-for-profit aging services organizations serving residents and clients across the senior care continuum,, we must remember older Americans have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can benefit society. Providing opportunities for aging Virginians to engage in their communities, volunteer and mentor younger generations can help them feel valued and promote a sense of purpose and belonging.

As we celebrate Older Americans Month, we must prioritize overall wellness for our aging population. By promoting physical and mental health, community outreach, nourishing social connections and continually recognizing their value and contributions, we can help our older adults live their best lives and continue to be vital members of our society.


Chris Henderson is Chief Executive Officer at Pinnacle Living.