Home Health and Wellness Embrace Aging, Gain Lower Risk of Dying

Embrace Aging, Gain Lower Risk of Dying

Benjamin Surmi, Koelsch Communities

Director for Education and Culture for Koelsch Communities Benjamin Surmi, a social gerontologist, joins Suzanne. He oversees wellness programs that support 1,500 seniors throughout the United States. His mission is to empower older adults to go after things that matter to us, finding purpose, meaning, and enthusiasm in the second half of our lives. We see that 1) having a positive view of aging is a key ingredient: people who are satisfied with aging had a 43% lower risk of dying, as well as lower risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and others. An earlier study showed that people lived seven and a half years longer than their peers if they had a positive view of aging. It impacts your health and health outcomes.

Benjamin says, “A good bit of my career has been spent helping people plan for and carve out a plan for their family member, for themselves, that allows the things that matter to the family to be foremost in that plan. Because a lot of us, we just look at, ok, “I need to find a place to live for my mom. I just need to find a good place where that’s safe, and where she can get the help that she needs.” But that is not the key. The key is to plan around what mom loves. If mom loves spending time with friends singing hymns, that’s what makes mom tick, then we need to plan the whole life plan around what makes mom tick. If mom loves gardening outside everyday with a little puppy, then we need to plan our whole retirement plan around that.”

Mental health is a benefit, but purpose births independence and thriving. Benjamin says, “I’ll give you an example. I’m working hard to bring humanity to the United States. It’s a program in Europe and Asia that is not yet in the United States, and a whole set of techniques for caring for the most vulnerable people in our world. One of the mentors taught me a story about a gentleman who had lost, I think, a leg, and he had been in a really bad accident, and he was not doing any therapy, not doing anything, just letting himself go. And once they realized that he was an avid skier, they got him dreaming again that one day, even though he was 70 with these disabilities, that he would ski again. As soon as that dream took hold, he started participating in therapy, he started getting involved, taking care of himself, and pretty soon he was on the slopes again at 70.”

Learn more about Koelsch Communities at their website or call (360) 867-1900. Hear more of their podcasts at Answers for Elders.