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2009 press releases

Active-aging industry leaders pinpoint key to older adults’ healthy living

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At a strategy meeting of International Council on Active Aging, active-aging industry leaders pinpoint the key to involving older adults in a productive and healthy life. Older adults benefit, and society benefits.

VANCOUVER--. As the words “wellness” and “prevention” circulate through the health care debates in the United States, active-aging industry leaders joined a think tank convened by International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), the professional association for providers of seniors housing and services in both the private and public sectors. The goal of the annual Strategy Session think tank: to set direction and identify actions that enable the industry to promote quality of life for older adults.

How does active aging intersect with health care? A stream of research shows that as people age, they maintain physical health, mental health and cognitive ability through physical activity, social interactions and intellectual stimulus. The industry leaders at the sixth annual ICAA Strategy Session, held on September 22, 2009 in the Washington, DC, area, representing retirement communities and professional organizations serving older adults, made two key recommendations.

1. The International Council on Active Aging and aligned organizations will provide practical suggestions to President Barack Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director, White House Office of Health Reform on how to expand the traditional medically-based definitions of prevention and wellness to include lifestyle programs that enable older adults to be active and productive. Prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle, in addition to valuable medical screenings, and the providers in the active-aging industry are the experts at enabling older adults to live an active and healthy life.

The five practical recommendations developed at the ICAA Strategy Session will be confirmed by leaders in the active-aging industry before being sent to key members of the administration. Investment in wellness can save money for individuals, insurers and governments. The recommendations are expected to be available in October.

2. The key to encouraging older adults to remain active and adopt healthier lifestyles is “engagement.” A pursuit that is engaging, and is meaningful to the individual. When engaged, the person is focused on the experience and finds value in the activity. People who are engaged are healthier, and are less likely to spiral downward into isolation and depression.

At the ICAA Strategy Session, delegates decided that engagement is a core principle in developing programs for older adults and professionals who work with the aging population. The ICAA association will organize an initiative to develop engagement strategies, feature best-practice programs, and potentially identify methods to measure engagement.

“True reform in health care isn’t only about insurance,” pointed out Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging. “It means people understand that their daily actions can make them healthier. Many of ICAA’s members have figured out how to develop wellness programs that help older adults meet that goal. Now, as an industry, we will work together to take the next step in engaging more seniors and in measuring our results.”

At the ICAA Strategy Session, delegates also made recommendation on implementing the ICAA/ProMatura Wellness Benchmarks. These business benchmarks, the first created by the active-aging industry to provide a consistent measure of results, are currently being piloted at retirement communities throughout the United States. When the ICAA/ProMatura Wellness Benchmarks, are available industrywide, it will be the first time that national measures of outcomes will demonstrate the effectiveness of wellness programs targeted to older adults.

The ICAA Strategy Session is a special meeting held during Active Aging Week, the annual health promotion event in the last week in September. Active Aging Week is a showcase of ways that older adults live full and health lives, with a multitude of events organized locally by retirement communities, government agencies and private community organizations.

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About International Council on Active Aging
International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) has been leading, connecting and defining the active-aging industry since 2001, by uniting professionals in the retirement, assisted living, recreation, fitness, rehabilitation and wellness fields. The council supports these professionals with education, information, resources and tools, so they can achieve optimal success with the growing population of people who are 50 years and older. ICAA is one of more than 50 of the most prominent health and aging organizations working to implement the National Blueprint on Aging.

About the ICAA Strategy Session
As an advocate for promoting a wellness lifestyle within all dimensions (emotional, vocational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social), the International Council on Active Aging established the annual Strategy Session to bring together select industry leaders to discuss and recommend solutions to mutual challenges. Held each September in conjunction with Active Aging Week—an annual event that heightens awareness of the benefits for older adults of physical activity and healthy lifestyles—the Strategy Session allows industry leaders to direct the future of active aging. This year’s event was supported by Morrison Senior Dining, Nautilus Fitness, NuStep, Inc, Technogym, Institute for Preventive Foot Health and the American Council on Exercise.

For interviews or more information about ICAA or aging-related issues, contact:

Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging
Toll-free: 1-866-335-9777 (North America only)
Telephone: 604-734-4466; cell: 604-763-4595
Email: colinmilner@icaa.cc

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