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Copyright 2007,
American Senior Fitness









Whole-Person Wellness
for Vital Living

Jan Montague, MGS.



Part Two of five installments

The wellness concept is emerging as a model that can lead not only to decreased health care consumption but also to improved health and quality of life for older Americans. But why are we having this conscious change in perspective? And why now? Several factors are contributing to this shift to a wellness focus:

  • the high cost of health care,

  • relevant research,

  • nationwide acceptance of integrative therapies, and

  • changing demographics and baby boomer influence.

These factors are driving the change in viewpoint and fueling the goal of keeping seniors healthier and proactive toward aging. At the same time, older adults increasingly recognize the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Together, these forces are creating the momentum towards wellness that we see today.

The desire for optimal health as we age, to be functionally-able for as long as possible, has older people embracing the concepts of wellness as a leading model of health management. The wellness model promotes self-responsibility for health and well-being within all areas of a person's life. As noted in Part One of this series, this model incorporates a holistic perspective -- that is, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Wellness was first conceptualized by Dr. Halbert Dunn in the mid 1950s. In his book High Level Wellness he defined wellness as an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable within the functioning environment.

More recently, the National Wellness Institute -- the principal organization for wellness education, training, and research in the United States -- defined the wellness concept as six dimensional. The six dimensions that embody personal wellness are:

  • emotional,

  • intellectual,

  • physical,

  • social,

  • spiritual, and

  • vocational.

Wellness is a life-growth process that embodies the philosophy of holistic health. It is the integration of mind, body, and spirit throughout life's journey. Simply stated, what you do, think, feel, and believe has an impact on your health and well-being.

(See the next issue of Experience! for Part Three of Whole-Person Wellness for Vital Living, which will discuss each of the six dimensions of wellness one by one.)

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