For decades psychologists have been working to unlock the secret to successful aging and to determine how to define happiness in the eighth, ninth and even tenth decades of life.
But how does one measure the potential for social, intellectual and emotional growth? It turns out that it’s not the sum of individual accomplishments that counts, but rather what one does to successfully maximize lifestyle at each life stage, and in each successive decade.
“People can mistakenly measure success by their living situation, such as living at home versus in an assisted living community, but it is more about embracing a lifestyle that maximizes your best self,” said Beverly Sanborn, MSW, LCSW, gerontologist and vice president of program development for Belmont Village Senior Living. “What is critical for successful aging is being in a social environment. People are happiest in a supportive place where they feel valued and retain a sense of purpose. That may be possible to achieve at home if the senior has a very active, social lifestyle, but if daily engagement is limited or unfulfilling, the perceived advantage of aging at home could quickly give way to isolation and withdrawal.”
The successful aging philosophy is the framework for Belmont Village’s innovative programming. The company is a recognized leader in interpreting University-led research into therapeutic programs, offering a whole brain fitness lifestyle that engages people at all activity and cognitive levels. From MBA® (Mind, Body, Awareness), a self-directed program for independent residents who want to stay active and maintain mental acuity, to Circle of Friends®, a dedicated, seven-day-a-week program for residents with mild to moderate memory impairment, to the more tailored care plans for residents with late-stage memory loss, Belmont Village provides daily activities at every tier that offer engagement and socialization. Professionally trained memory coordinators and activity assistants work with each resident to create a personal, “just right” cognitive challenge that helps foster a sense of purpose and well-being.
“We design our activities and programs with the belief that everyone has something to contribute,” said Sanborn. “At every level of independence, we firmly believe that each person has value and can enjoy happiness.” Research indicates that mental fitness activities, along with a healthy diet and an exercise regimen that includes a combination of aerobic and strength-training, can help to build new neuro-connections in the brain. So physical and memory limitations aside, looking forward and focusing on what can still be done builds a sense of personal peace and happiness, or a positive outlook.
According to Sanborn, physical changes should not become an obstacle for successful aging, “It’s common to have a chronic condition, but one should not face this alone or remain in an environment that is isolated or lacks mental stimulation. Look forward, not backward, and you can see how rewarding a positive outlook can be.”
Belmont Village Albany is now accepting reservations. Projected to open this summer, the senior living community will provide 175 units of Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care, along with expansive common areas and signature amenities. A grand opening is planned for August 5-6. For information, please call 510-525-4554 or visit www.belmontvillage.com.
Article by the San Francisco Chronicle, Prime Living Section published on July 3.