As we get older, we experience a growing number of major life changes - empty nest, retirement, loss of a loved one, declining health. How we handle these changes is key to aging well physically and mentally.
Healthy aging means learning to adapt to these changes and staying active, connected and engaged, which may be difficult to achieve depending on where and how one chooses to live.
At 600 East Flournoy Lucas Road, staying active, connected and engaged is easy because of the lifestyle embraced by The Oaks of Louisiana and the design of the master-planned residential community.
Regular physical activity is key to physical and mental health. It can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers; strengthen bones and muscles; improve mood and mental health; prevent falls; and improve ability to do daily activities, says Holly Winterrowd-Sanders, senior wellness coordinator for The Oaks of Louisiana and group exercise coordinator for WK Fitness & Wellness Centers.
“It is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” she says.
And on The Oaks of Louisiana’s beautiful 312-acre property, residents have plenty of room and opportunity to engage in physical activity of their choosing.
“The Oaks of Louisiana is a large campus and we have walking trails throughout the grounds with LifeTrail wellness stations where residents can stop and do strengthening and resistance exercises in the outdoors,” says Margaret Elrod, executive director of The Oaks. “There also is a walking path around beautiful 5-acre Lake Eleanor.”
A pecan orchard on part of the property and newly planted fruit- bearing plants are incentives for those who walk for exercise to explore the grounds further, she adds.
The Spa & Wellness Center in Tower at The Oaks features an indoor saltwater pool that makes swimming or water aerobics a year-round option. An exercise room features state-of-the-art fitness equipment specially designed for senior adults.
Each residence – Tower at The Oaks, Garden Apartments at The Oaks, Savannah at The Oaks and Health Center at Live Oak – also has a wide-range of exercise classes and activities promoting health and wellness.
Connecting with friends and family is critical to staying healthy, says Janice Latvala, manager of Savannah at The Oaks. It is important for residents to share their time, stories and experiences with others to maintain a sense of purpose. However, it isn’t always easy as one gets older, Latvala says.
“The older you get, the more people you lose, the smaller your circle of friends,” she says. “If you stay in your home and you’ve lost your spouse, there is a risk of becoming isolated. In a community like The Oaks you have a built-in network of friends and people who keep an eye out for you.”
Moreover, says Elrod, The Oaks is designed to support interactions through mealtime, campus-wide activities in the Franks Community Centre and multifaith services in Chapel at The Oaks.
“At The Oaks it is a “piece of cake” to stay connected,” she says. “All residents have to do is walk out of their doors.”
There are many reasons for senior adults not only to keep their bodies active but their brains as well. Research shows staying engaged and maintaining intellectual skills and brain health helps with cognition and may help delay the onset of dementia.
“It is tremendously important to maintain brain vitality,” Elrod says. “At The Oaks, residents enjoy a number of programs that stimulate interest in subjects in which they may never have had an interestor had the opportunity to learn about.”
The University at The Oaks series, led by LSUS history professors Dr. Gary Joiner and Dr. Cheryl White, is among them. It is offered twice each year and draws not only residents from throughout the campus but participants from the community. Topics are historical and have covered the War Between the States, Catherine the Great, the Bicentennial of Louisiana, the Borgias and Henry VIII.
“The worst thing senior adults can do is stop challenging their brains,” Latvala says. “Residents who age well are those who stay engaged and it doesn’t have to be all intellectual pursuit. It just helps to maintain an active and healthy mind.”
At The Oaks of Louisiana, it is easy to stay active, connected and engaged, which in turn means living healthier and aging well.
So much benefit for one address.