For most seniors approaching retirement it is their vision of spending more time with their loved ones, or long afternoons at the lake or beach that get them through those last few years of their workaday lives. But for many, just when retirement arrives they find themselves spending more time in the doctor’s office or hospital than on those long walks on the beach. So where can seniors, and soon-to-be-seniors, go in order to ensure a healthier and happier retirement? Today, there is a fun and innovative place to turn to before and during retirement to help ensure that you remain healthy enough to enjoy those golden years. That place is what healthcare industry experts are calling a Healthy Living Center. A Healthy Living Center is a place that brings a new approach to wellness, healing, and health education to a community, and they are starting to pop up in communities all across America.
There is no single definitive model behind a Healthy Living Center, but one common theme is that these are places where those who deliver healthcare services such as hospitals and healthcare systems partner with non-profit wellness centers such as your local YMCA, JCC or township community center to deliver a full array of healthy living resources focused on senior’s health. In addition to standard fitness equipment and classes these facilities also include such unique amenities as teaching kitchens for the demonstration of such things as diabetic meal preparation or cooking techniques for the spouses of cancer treatment patients, cafes where members can socialize over a healthful meal, and conference rooms for health education seminars often taught by members of your local healthcare community. But most importantly, these are not typical “swim and gyms” for athletes and families, they are unique places that cater to the health education and social needs of seniors in their pursuit of maintaining healthy, social and active lifestyles throughout retirement.
Often, doctors in communities that have a Healthy Living Center will “prescribe” their patients a membership to such a facility for preventative or rehabilitative health purposes, but it is the unique programming offered by Healthy Living Centers that is most attractive to seniors. Such offerings as aquatic therapy, weight management classes, golf strength and conditioning classes, senior aerobics and others are great ways for older Americans to socialize with one another and maintain a high level of physical activity throughout retirement.
As Washington emphasizes the need for healthcare providers to take responsibility for the full continuum of care for their patients, you will see more of these facilities sprout up across the country. By utilizing a medically integrated approach to wellness, Healthy Living Centers bring together the expertise of medical, fitness and dietary professionals to more effectively impact a person’s health and well-being. So the next time you visit your doctor, ask her if there is a Healthy Living Center near your community. After all, retirement is not a destination, but the start of a great journey, and like any journey you must be both physically and mentally prepared for it.