April 28, 2010

We're Here for a Good Time

Healthy aging can be fun with the right supports

Diane Zabinski knew she needed more exercise but motivation was her biggest challenge. That's why she joined Walkabouts, a walking club in her community that she now leads.

"It helped me gain more confidence. It helped me to recover faster from knee surgery. I'm off my blood pressure medications now and I've lost 38 pounds," she says. Along with getting active and improving her health, she's also enjoyed the chance to meet new people.

That's the kind of success story the Healthy Aging Resource Teams (HART) is trying to achieve, one person at a time. The goal is to promote health and awareness about injury and illness prevention, provide care and help people over the age of 55 manage chronic diseases.

HART has been supporting people with healthy aging in the region for quite some time but recently received a make-over. The word "seniors" doesn't accurately capture the spectrum of people - ranging in age from 55 to over 100 - HART works with.

Click here for HART's latest brochure.

Supports are very important in living a healthy, active lifestyle. In fact social isolation can negatively impact your mental and emotional well-being, particularly if you're attempting to manage a chronic illness on your own - which you don't need to do. Supports are available.

"With older adults who have a chronic disease, managing the disease and the chronological aging process at the same time can be challenging but you can be proactive and partake in different activities," says Madeline Kohut, Community Development and Senior Specialist with the Winnipeg Health Region. "Because of circumstances or something that's happened in your life, you may need to make some behavioural or lifestyle changes to be healthier. You might have diabetes and you can adjust your diet, take a walk - you don't have to be a super hero."

Seniors centres with a wide variety of programming, meal programs, nutrition support and programs encouraging staying active - thru volunteering and getting moving with walking or exercises- are just a sampling of the resources available in your community to encourage healthy aging.

"We take a holistic approach to health and healthy aging that includes physical, emotional, spiritual and social health. All of those are important. People can join in recreation, social and health promotion activities. Think there is something for everybody, depending on what you need and your abilities and interests," says Madeline. "Often you don't know what's available in your community until you're in crisis. Go check out what's available in your neighbourhood, today."

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