The Seven Dimensions of Wellness and How to Apply Them to Your Senior Living Programming

Wellness programs used to be a competitive advantage for senior living communities. Now they are table stakes. 

Boomers are the wealthiest and most active generation ever. As they start to consider moving to a senior community in the years to come, they will be seeking diverse programming matching their needs and interests. And they will be willing to pay a premium for a high-quality wellness program.

Before building a wellness program, it is important to understand what encompasses wellness. Wellness requires addressing an entire range of human needs, from emotional to spiritual. The International Council on Active Aging has adapted the seven dimensions of wellness, a well-known framework for ensuring holistic well-being, to specifically target senior communities. 

Discover the seven dimensions of wellness for senior living communities, why each one is so important for the happiness and health of your residents, and how you can easily implement each one into your community’s wellness program.


1. Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness involves the ability to acknowledge and express one's feelings. This includes validating and managing emotions in a constructive way. Addressing older adults’ emotional needs will help to improve mood, self-awareness, and the ability to cope with challenges. Some programs that correspond to emotional wellness include storytelling, facilitated conversations, peer counselling, and comedy nights. 


 

2. Intellectual Wellness

Curiosity, creativity, increased knowledge, and alertness are all benefits of intellectual wellness. While declines in mental agility come with age, there are ways to stimulate the mind and strengthen it for a better quality of life. A Survey from the ICAA in 2018 found a 30% reduction in mild cognitive impairment among those participating in stimulating activities.¹ Continuing education, speaker series, games, puzzles, trivia challenges, journaling, and painting are all activities that can promote this dimension of wellness.


3. Physical Wellness

Physical well-being is a foundation for all other dimensions. Being physically well gives individuals the confidence knowing that they can participate in other activities. Addressing older adults’ physical wellness can improve strength, flexibility, joint function, balance, cardio, as well as mental and emotional state. In fact, active aging leads to a 25% delay in major mobility disabilities among people in instructor-led physical activities.² You can implement strength and flexibility exercises, aerobics, dance, yoga, bowling, bocci, tennis, walking, and swimming to promote this dimension of wellness among your residents.  


4. Environmental Wellness

Our physical environment has a deep effect on our overall well-being. This dimension can either support or detract from others. The spaces in which older adults live and enjoy themselves link directly to their mood. Programs that facilitate environmental wellness include walking, gardening, natural history education, and meditation.




5. Professional Wellness

Making use of one’s talents and skills gives feelings of fulfillment and accomplishment. Giving older adults the ability to use the skills acquired during their careers can reinvigorate a feeling of purpose and excitement. The same ICAA survey in 2018 found that 94% of older adults believe that having a purpose in life is very or somewhat important to them.³ Implementing this dimension of wellness into your programming can be done with peer teaching, mentoring, caregiving, volunteering, and relevant hobbies

6. Social Wellness

Maintaining strong social relationships is vital for older adults’ happiness and health. In fact, one study found that loneliness is as dangerous for one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.⁴ Facilitating social activities, even if they are from a distance, will add tremendous value for your residents. You can add activities such as parties, travel photo sharing, intergenerational experiences with children and grandchildren, and special interest clubs to decrease loneliness and social isolation in your community. 


7. Spiritual Wellness

Humans seek meaning and purpose and this does not stop as we get older. For older adults, spirituality means having a sense of connection to something bigger. It is about findings and connecting with what is meaningful to you in a way that lightens and enriches your spirit. Consider hosting a variety of faith-based activities, mindfulness workshops, and time in nature to facilitate spiritual wellness.


Now that you have explored the seven dimensions, how can you facilitate the wide variety of activities within your wellness program? 

Firstly, a comprehensive understanding of your residents is required. This would include completing resident profiles to capture their needs, hobbies, and goals, periodically.  Next, you should create a wellness program that includes activities from each dimension of wellness that correspond to the interests of your residents. Finding activities that your residents have in common for each dimension is crucial for a well-rounded program. Finally, you should strive for continuous improvement using analytics such as attendance, engagement level, satisfaction scores, and bench-marks from your company and the industry. 

With Welbi, you can do all of this and more. Organize your resident profiles to better understand them, schedule activities that they will enjoy for each dimension of wellness using our advanced recommendation engine, and continuously improve your wellness program with our real-time analytics. Welbi will build a better wellness program for your senior living community that incorporates each dimension of wellness leading to better health and happier lives for your residents. Book a demo today to see how your community could benefit from Welbi. 


¹ The business case for wellness programs in senior living.” ICAA 2018

² The business case for wellness programs in senior living.” ICAA 2018

³ The business case for wellness programs in senior living.” ICAA 2018

⁴ https://academic.oup.com/ppar/article/27/4/127/4782506