AFS Blog

Optimal Living | Optimal Aging

Posted on June 27, 2018 | by Linda Albert
Optimal Living | Optimal Aging

An Age-Friendly community is a healthy community, and the well-being of its residents is of paramount concern. How can the residents of Sarasota County become healthier? This was a question posed recently by the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association at their Forum on Optimal Aging: Taking Charge of Your Health.

In opening remarks, Master of Ceremonies John McCarthy pointed out that stress is caused by the feeling of lack of control over what happens in our lives; this is detrimental to our health and well-being. An astonishing 50-80% of illnesses have stress as an underlying contributor. The Forum’s panel of experts gathered for the distinct purpose of describing and demonstrating how we have it within ourselves to take charge of our health by practicing good health habits and learning how to better manage stress – by choosing habits and activities that increase well-being.
While the basic model of good health habits hasn’t changed much, the presenters shared hard facts and evidence with increased research data in support of specific factors:

  • Nutrition – Nutrition is one of the few modifiable predictors of health in old age, and many older adults are not consuming the appropriate volume of fruits and vegetables. Importantly, there is increased evidence of what is termed the Gut-Brain Connection, whereby what we eat impacts brain health, including dementia.

  • Movement – The CDC estimates that only 23% of adults get the appropriate amount of exercise and the statistics are lower for those living in the South East. Exercise shouldn’t be work – it should be something we enjoy daily. Whether it’s swimming, yoga, chair exercises, or dancing, activity increases brain and body health, and the impact on psychological well-being cannot be overstated.

  • Mindfulness – Two presenters walked the audience through varied breathing exercises. Something as simple as focused breathing can center us, bringing us back to being present in the moment. Focusing on the past can bring resentment or regret, and focusing on the future can create anxiety. All we really have control over is now.

  • Socialization – Humans are social beings, and social isolation puts us at high risk for disease. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic, and adults age 50 and older are particularly at risk. Isolation is often the result of multiple causes, including poor physical and mental health, poorly designed communities, and significant life events such as loss and retirement.

Finally, a timely discussion ensued as two presenters spoke on the subject of medically prescribed cannabis, now legal in the State of Florida. I was surprised to learn that cannabis was widely used medicinally in the United States from 1850–1937 and Neurologist Dr. Ronald Aung-Din made a compelling argument for the necessity of something that in his experience has worked, in cases where pharmaceuticals have failed.

The Downtown Sarasota Condo Association (DSCA) graciously provides videos of this and other Forum presentations on their website. Visit the DSCA Forum on Optimal Living to view slides and videos from this exceptional program on Optimal Living.


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