Healthy Living for Graceful Aging

Happy senior woman sitting on bench in her backyard garden with a newspaper looking at camera smiling

Whether at a grocery store, watching a television show, or listening to the radio, if you are like me, you hear a lot about popular trends in food, supplements, and exercise.

I find it's hard to keep track if more is better, less is actually more or, if I followed a new health guideline, whether I'm smart or not-so-smart after all. What is a person to do?

It's important to remember health and wellness basics as we age, regardless of new trends. Healthy aging and healthy living means staying physically and socially active, staying connected to loved ones, friends, or family, learning new information, and embracing life with joy.

Aging and Disability Services (ADS) knows the importance of healthy aging, having led initiatives and participated in efforts to promote food access (like Farm to Table), PEARLS—Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives (a problem-solving skill-building program for people with minor depression), falls prevention education, and Living Well with Chronic Conditions workshops.

Aging and Disability Services offers 15 Self-Management Plans that can help you focus on positive health behavior. See links below.

Even with chronic conditions, you might recognize that you had a good minute, a good hour, or even a good day. Because of a desire to focus on what we have versus what we lack, ADS has collaborated with several hospitals, Northwest Kidney Centers, and Qualis Health to develop a series of self-management plans for people with chronic health conditions.

The self-management plans are meant to help people focus on the health and wellness aspects of their care, and to identify—with the help of their health care professional—when they need to be seen in a clinic. Rather than simply focusing on "red flags," we want our clients to recognize the important role they play in their own health and wellness.

The self-management plans are used to help people look at positive health practices every day. For example, if you take steps to keep your blood pressure within the range recommended by your doctor, if you follow a low cholesterol or low saturated fat diet, or if you take medications as prescribed by your health care professional, you are on the right track.

To date, we have 15 different self-management plans. We will add translated versions in the near future.

Every little bit helps. It's not a matter of starting off with an aggressive exercise routine or making a vow that you'll never eat a chocolate bar again. It's about small changes that lead to big rewards.

In the Bing dictionary, graceful is defined as "poised and dignified." In the Miriam Webster dictionary, it is defined by "elegance or beauty of form, manner, movement, or speech."

Whatever definition you choose, graceful aging is worth it. You are worth it!

Contributor Mary Patricia O'Leary RN, BSN is a planner with Aging and Disability Services. Her clinical skills have been invaluable in developing care coordination plans for long-term care case management clients and for improving transitions of care that reduce chances of re-hospitalization.

Aging and Disability Services offers 15 Self-Management Plans that can be printed on 11"x17" paper.

These Self-Management Plans are available for personal use and use by any organization by request, and may be modified, adapted, or built upon for publication if credit is given to Aging and Disability Services. Feedback is appreciated. Special thanks to Highline Medical Center, Northwest Kidney Centers, UW Medicine/Valley Medical Center, and Washington Dental Service Foundation for input.

Note: Some of the plans have been translated into other languages. To inquire about translations, e-mail marypat.oleary@seattle.gov.