Cultivating Wellness Within Senior Living

Cultivating Wellness Within Senior Living

Ensuring that residents are leading healthy, happy and fulfilling lives is the most important goal for any senior living organization. However, achieving that goal presents some major challenges due to the increasingly diverse older generation. As anyone within the field of senior living knows, no two seniors are the same. Seniors come from varying socioeconomic, familial and professional backgrounds, and therefore have varying needs and aspirations. One senior’s idea of a “healthy, happy and fulfilling” lifestyle doesn’t necessarily translate to their peers.

Through my research over the years, I’ve come across many potential solutions to this ever-present challenge. What has stood out most is the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, a set of key life elements that, when cultivated, enhance health, happiness and fulfillment. The standard Eight Dimensions of Wellness are: physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, intellectual, vocational, social and environmental. These dimensions are effective due to their broadness, as they can be customized based on an individual’s needs.

At Friendship Village Tempe, we’ve used this broadness our advantage. We engaged our residents to identify their interests and developed a customized version of the eight dimensions. They are:

  1. Physical (MOVE) – Choosing lifestyle habits that maintain or improve health and functional ability.
  2. Spiritual (TRUST) –  Living with a purpose in life; exploring beliefs and values that create personal peace.
  3. Emotional (FEEL) – Coping with challenges and behaving in trustworthy and respectful ways.
  4. Intellectual (THINK) – Engaging in creative pursuits and intellectually stimulating activities.
  5. Vocational (DO) – Improving skills and abilities that help oneself and others stay productive.
  6. Social (BOND) – Interacting with others for mutual benefit and awareness of the larger community.
  7. Environmental (RESPECT) –  Maintaining the land, services, processes and designs that contribute to a healthier and more sustainable world.
  8. Health Services (CARE) –  Being proactive in our health care.

Every activity, event, amenity and service that we put in place at our community falls into at least one of those eight categories. We offer multiple options within each category to give flexibility to our residents. For example, we offer water aerobics, Tai Chi, yoga, Zumba® and line dancing, all within the Physical (MOVE) segment. That way, residents have a variety of options to choose from.  

This approach has been very effective in ensuring that our residents are getting the most out of retirement. Per last year’s anonymous community survey, 95% of our residents expressed that our community has had a positive impact on their aging process. More impressively, 98% of them said that they’re “living well.”

Our success is a testament to the effectiveness of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness. We’ve achieved the seemingly impossible by pinpointing what works well for a large majority of our residents. A similar approach could be a plausible solution for other senior living organizations who wind up at the crossroads between maintaining uniformity in their offerings, while catering to residents with diverse needs. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness give seniors the freedom to determine how they want to achieve better health, happiness and fulfillment.

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