What does it mean to live a healthy life? Eating healthy? Being physically active? Living life to its fullest? On Senior Day at the recent Minnesota State Fair, more than 175 people participated in a survey about staying healthy as we age. Ninety-five percent ranged in age from 45 to 84 with the largest percentage (46%) aged 65 to 74. Participants represented counties throughout Minnesota; 78% were from the Twin Cities metro area.
Survey results provide a snapshot of how of older adults think about staying healthy:
- Why is staying healthy important? Have more energy (84%); Live longer (74%); Avoid disease/injury (76%); Better mental health (74%); Keep medical costs down (74%)
- What do you do to stay healthy? Don’t smoke (94%); Stay socially connected (78%); Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables (72%); Get two hours+ exercise weekly (68%)
- What is your biggest challenge in staying healthy? Getting enough exercise (62%); Following a balanced diet (58%); Reducing the chance of falling (31%); Managing a chronic condition (27%)
- Where would you attend programs that provide support in staying healthy? Community center (69%); Fitness center (54%); Church (37%); Clinic or hospital setting (24%)
Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging, through their Healthy Living as You Age initiative, are furthering many of the ideas raised in the survey results. The initiative develops a network to make evidence-based health workshops available to people across the state. The workshops help people manage chronic conditions, prevent falls and prevent and manage diabetes.
Nora Slawik, Project Manager for the initiative, notes that “These workshops encourage seniors to engage in their own health. We envision a broad culture change that fosters self-managed health and well-being as we age.”
If you are interested in being trained to lead an evidence-based health workshop in your area, contact your regional AAA.
“I am 80 and have an artificial leg. This class has helped tremendously with my balance. It’s wonderful! I accidently dropped a coffee cup the other day and I was able to catch it before it hit the ground. I wouldn’t have had the reflexes to do that without this class.”
—Suzanne, Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance class participant
“The Living Well with Diabetes class was wonderful; we had 12 residents participate. One resident who actually reported weight loss because of following through on her action plan. I think it was beneficial for all who attended. It seemed [as if] many felt they were alone in their battle (cooking, eating right, exercising, understanding doctors, etc.). Now they have buddies they can relate to in our community.”
—Angie, activities coordinator for a housing with services community