Embrace Wellness – August 2019

By the Erickson Living Embrace Wellness Team

Happy August! As you know from reading earlier editions of this newsletter, Erickson Living has been on a journey called “Embrace Wellness”—a journey to create greater appreciation for all the dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, occupational, spiritual, and environmental. Our focus for August is Occupational Wellness.

Albert Einstein once said: “We should make things as simple as possible, but not simpler!” Similarly, Richard Bolles, the career planner, warns us not to get stuck in a rigid, simplistic view of life—as if young children just play, and students just learn, and adults just work.

If we lived with that boxy notion for six or seven decades, we might find ourselves at retirement, thinking:

• “Ahh, play is for kids; I have none of that left in me”

• “I don’t need to learn anything new; I finished school a long time ago!

• “And if I am not earning a paycheck any more, I’m not worth very much!”

In reality, we are all at our best when we are still having fun, still curious about life, and still making each day count by doing good in the world!

The McArthur Foundation put their finger right on it, when they gave their “genius grant” to John Rowe and Robert Kahn. As a result, these scholars showed that the most happy, healthy, vital seniors have three things in common: putting an equal emphasis on (a) reducing illness and injury, (b) building healthy bodies and brains, and (c) engaging in life! The sweet overlap, they concluded, was “successful aging”—or really, “successful living” or “Erickson Living!” where residents share their gifts to create Communities that celebrate life.

How does this show up across the Erickson Living Communities?

• Residents invest over one million hours in volunteer work, keeping their skills sharp and their knowledge fresh—making the world a better place.

• Residents live longer, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, when they have a strong sense of purpose. More than 200 Erickson residents have crossed the centenarian mark, most of them (64%) still living in their independent apartments.

• Residents co-lead the activity program, known as “Community Resources,” because our residents and their talents are the most-important resource in the community.

• Residents, staff, and Erickson Living give over $2 million to support nearly 1,500 different students in college each year.

• Residents, staff, and the Jim Davis Family Foundation give over $7 million each year to support the 1% of residents who have outlived their assets.

Four of the best ways to boost our mood are (a) getting a good night’s sleep, (b) exercising regularly, (c) volunteering with others, and (d) giving charitably. With a lifestyle like that, we can more easily counterbalance the blues that sometimes set in. Building on cartoonist Bil Keane’s wisdom, we remind ourselves: “Yesterday is history (we can’t change it) and tomorrow is mystery (we can’t altogether know it), but today is a gift; that’s why we call it ‘The Present’ (so let’s unwrap it!)”

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