There is no single template for the aging process, but many people share some basic goals for their later years.
Helen Beaman, the Older Adult Behavioral Health Specialist/Mental Health Services Coordinator for Linn and Benton counties, identified three common objectives:
- Maintaining health and wellness, including keeping up one's physical mobility and functioning.
- Staying connected socially.
- Remaining true to one's values and continuing to establish new life goals and make progress toward achieving them.
"I was looking for a common denominator between all of those things and for me it really comes down to brain health," Beaman said.
Beaman shared some tips for maintaining brain health on Thursday night during the 2019 Lebanon Senior Center Resource Symposium. She was the keynote speaker and her topic was "Keys to Aging Well."
The first step is to get adequate sleep, Beaman said. Following a healthy diet is also important, with Beaman recommending the Mediterranean diet as a good model to follow. This diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and healthy fats. Fish, poultry, beans and eggs are recommended, along with a moderate amount of dairy products. Consumption of red meat is limited.
Maintaining relationships with others is also important.
"We know social isolation and loneliness, for people of all ages, is really dangerous for physical and emotional well-being," Beaman said.
A lack of social connections is a problem that is growing worse for people of all ages, she believes.
"I would say we are more disconnected than ever., but it literally can shave years off of someone's lifespan," Beaman said.
The senior resource symposium has been an annual event in the past, but Activities Planner Rebecca Wirfs said the event had been on a two-year hiatus.
"We saw there was a changing demographic for seniors in the area and we wanted to assess what that was and what those changing needs were. We had some new organizations coming into town. So kind of let things settle down," Wirfs said.
Wirfs said those just entering their senior years have different needs than their older peers. They are more interested in physical activities, exercise classes and learning opportunities.
This year's symposium was the first to be held at night. The goal was to encourage pre-retirement seniors to stop by after work.
"Really hoping we get of those younger folks in here. We see a lot of the older community every day here at the Lebanon Senior Center, so we have a chance to connect them with resources a lot," Wirfs said.
Lebanon resident Karen Richardson was among those who attended the event. She spent time speaking with representatives of Linn-Benton Community College about their non-credit classes. Richardson worked in insurance and has been retired for about two and a half years.
She was drawn by the opportunity to hear Beaman's presentation, as well as talks by Mark Wilson on Medicare as well as Angie Frederic and Katelyn Newkirk on nutrition.
Sue Stone of Linn-Benton Community College was excited for the opportunity to speak with seniors about the classes offered in Lebanon, Albany, Corvallis and Sweet Home. The classes are offered through a variety of community partners such as Boys & Girls Clubs, senior centers, parks and recreation and churches.
"The range right now is from 40 to 70 year-olds. We offer personal enrichment, professional growth and career development classes," Stone said.
Stone encouraged people to not throw away the course catalogs they receive in the mail from LBCC. Just because they may not be interested in degree courses does not mean there is nothing for them.
"We have everything from arts and crafts to computer skills and technology, fitness and dance, food and drink, home and garden, the list just goes on," Stone said.
LBCC was just one of the vendors who had booths at the symposium. The Linn-Benton Housing Authority, Samaritan Health Services, the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, Build Lebanon Trails and several senior homes were among those in attendance.
"We're really hoping this will help the community become more aware of what's offered to seniors and people with disabilities here, not just in Lebanon, but in all of Linn County," Wirfs said.