Wellness in Senior Living

future of senior citizens wellness

Traditional therapies like Ayurveda, Naturopathy and spiritual healing have undergone a sea of change. The ‘wellness’ theory has taken the world like a storm. Integrative wellness can now be termed as a ‘lifestyle medicine.’ But before moving on any further, let us define health and wellness.

Health and Wellness….hand-in-glove:

Health

Conventional interpretation

Hitherto, being healthy implied that one was disease-free.

Contemporary definition

In modern times, the concept of health goes beyond the criterion of absence of any kind of ailment. The World Health Organization (WHO) aptly defines it “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Consequently, health now is determined by the social, emotional, physiological, spiritual and biological aspects of life. Health has adopted a personalized approach now and has become holistic in nature.

Wellness

Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.
(Quote courtesy Greg Anderson)

Wellness is a continual process. It expects a person to take ownership of his life choices and decisions, so that he can lead a healthy, well-balanced and happy life. It can be improved and revised at any point of time as it is in a state of perpetual movement. We need to just be mindful of the options available to us, to enhance our state of well-being and choose wisely. Our priorities, which in turn influence our lifestyles primarily, impact our wellness quotient.

Wellness post retirement

From time immemorial, health and well-being in our seniors has always been a perpetual concern. Now, as the proportion of older population is on a rise, wellness in the older age has gained gigantic proportions. Consequently, ‘wellness’ programs have become the need of the hour.
These can work miracles if implemented properly, with long term benefits:

  • They improve our elders self concepts and make them happier.
  • They increase the life span.
  • They improve the quality of life as they help our seniors indulge in productive pursuits of their interests.

Clearly, a holistic approach to wellness and health is of paramount importance in our seniors. It incorporates mind, body and spirit. Ayurveda, Naturopathy and spiritual healing are a part of these wellness programs, as they diminish the effect of complicated medical problems that tend to seep into old age by being vigilant about health.
An insight into the therapies…

Ayurveda

  • Ayurveda aims at maintaining health.
  • It focuses on an individual and his vulnerability.
  • Ayurveda believes that each person is made up of 5 elements found in the Universe: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These, in turn, combine in the human body to create 3 life forces or doshas, namely, Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. These 3 control the functioning of our bodies.
  • The primary objective here is to concentrate on a balance of mind, body and spirit, with the help of diet, herbal treatments and yoga.

Ayurveda has evolved hugely over the years. Some of the innovations are mentioned below:

  • A number of biopharmaceutical companies like Hindustan Lever Ltd and Ozone have started to focus upon herbs and their medicinal properties, in their drug research.
  • ‘Triphala’, that has been in existence forever, can now be used in the treatment of cancer.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU ) to develop medication from various plants and herbs.
  • Ayurvedic medicines have introduced a wide array of products, for e.g. cough syrup, a tonic to improve memory, pills to aid digestion and much more. These are of immense importance for the senior citizens.

Naturopathy

  • Naturopathy, coupled with Homeopathy, reinforces the healing power of nature. It also includes herbal medication and acupuncture for healing. As a practice, Naturopathy holds the belief that :
    1. The human body has self healing properties. Naturopathy acknowledges the ‘wholeness’ of an individual and propagates one’s inherent ability to heal oneself.
    2. Positive changes in one’s lifestyle can help one to be healthy.
    3. Naturopathy professes holistic treatments, wherein the basic cause of illness needs to be treated. Consequently, Naturopathy re-establishes the balance between the 5 elements of nature.

Since Naturopathy not just aims to restore normal health but also reinstates physical and emotional wellness, it is a boon for our elders post retirement. Old age has its own set of health problems and ailments. Moreover, surgeries and related medicines can lead to various other grievances and complications. But with Naturopathy, there is no accompanying side effect… it is a blessing in disguise.

A lot is happening in the area of Naturopathy. A peek into a few latest occurrences:

    • A team of Indian-American researchers at the University of Utah and the University of Illinois, has devised a brilliant process to kill cancer cells through ‘Curcumin’(source Firstpost.com). It is an active ingredient of turmeric, which is used extensively in the Indian kitchen. Turmeric (haldi) is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
    • In the current world, anxiety disorders, hypertension, depression are predominant. Research and studies have proved, beyond doubt, that these can be addressed through Naturopathy, like, yoga, water therapy and so on.

Spiritual Healing

Spirituality and age complement and supplement each. Spirituality acts as a ‘protector’ for the aging, a warm abode, so that their chronological advancement is not fearful, but pleasant. It provides a deep sense of tranquility and content. The feeling of ‘wellness’ tends to get accentuated.

The significance:

Spirituality grows in direct proportion to time/ age. So by the time senior years commence, the innate positivity becomes deeper and our senior citizens can face challenges related to health, family and so forth, more effectively. A few key points here are:

  • Research suggests that the elderly are inclined toward sorrow, disappointments and unexplained insecurities; especially post-retirement.
  • A morbid fear of death also seeps in and spirituality helps them to deal with these issues.
  • Meditation is a powerful tool that helps our older generation to deal with life’s challenges.
  • Countless seniors have benefitted from Reiki. They have found instant relief from stress, pain, insomnia and other ailments. There is this peace and comfort that Reiki provides that is mystical in nature, yet so real.

‘Wellness therapies’ have attained colossal proportions:

There are various options for our elderly to choose from. To list a few:

  1. Senior living spaces
    These are self sufficient and well equipped. They cater to all the needs of the elderly people, pertaining to body, mind and spirit.
  2. Health Hotels
    Many high-end hotels are now offering their guests wellness programs. This includes yoga, meditation, naturopathy, ayurvedic therapies and so on….again a boon to our elders.
  3. Cruises
    These, too, have jumped on to the ‘wellness’ bandwagon. Cruise lines have started to offer unique ‘wellness’ treats to customers for whom health is priority. They work like magic for our seniors, who can live life to the fullest, without compromising on health.

Always remember…..