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  • Sharon R. Williams

The Aging Mastery Playbook


Aging demographics can be startling: 10,000 U.S. Baby Boomers age into Medicare every day! The U.S. Census predicts that by 2030, 85-year-olds will comprise the largest age demographic in the country. But, living longer comes with blessings as well as challenges.


Efforts to remain socially engaged have been challenging for everyone because of pandemic mandated physical distancing practices. Social isolation can be particularly damaging for older adults. This isolation has been linked to many health conditions such as lower immune function, hypertension, earlier onset of dementia, etc. Studies further indicate that isolation and loneliness impact health as adversely as obesity or smoking. Susan Stiles, senior director of Product Development and Strategy at the National Council on Aging, cited a 2017 AARP study noting Medicare spends an estimated $6.7 billion in additional healthcare costs each year on socially isolated older adults.

Recognizing a gap in programming focused on social support for retirement and aging transition, Jim Firman, former CEO of the NCOA, organized the research and eventual development of a remarkable resource, the Aging Mastery Program®. This unique, evidence-informed program has been utilized by 25,000 people across the country. It offers a proven solution to life planning that can be used to help navigate pre-retirement or retirement years. The premise of Aging Mastery is that older adults can enhance their quality of life by taking charge of their health and well-being via positive behavior change.


Firman assembled senior center representatives, aging services leaders, behavioral economists, other experts, and potential participants to design a user-friendly, effective curriculum. The name Aging Mastery was suggested by a team from the senior centers, and the development of the program adhered to the credo “For us, by us,” promoting the belief that retirement is not the end of active living, but a pathway for setting new purposes and seeking new paths to remain active and engaged.


Stiles indicated that Aging Mastery provides instruction on what people can do to be healthier and more economically secure through the years. Aging Mastery offers two participation options. The primary model is a 10-part curriculum. Classes are offered in-person or online and the in-person curriculum successfully converted to virtual during COVID-19. Lessons include:

Navigating Longer Lives

Exercise and You

Nutrition

Sleep

Financial Fitness

Advance Care Planning

Healthy Relationships

Financial Fitness

Medication Management

Community Engagement


The Aging Mastery® Starter Kit is a do-it-yourself model that can be used for self-study or the basis for a virtual book club. Starter kits are available at http://store.agingmastery.com.


Research and participant surveys show that AMP alumni increase physical activity, embrace healthy nutrition, execute advance care plans, and increase social connectedness.


Visit the video link: www.bit.ly/AMPTestimony for testimonials.


Or, for more information, visit: www.ncoa.org/article/welcome-to-aging-mastery


Aging Mastery will be available soon locally via these certified providers:

Area Agency on Aging 1-B:

wellnessprograms@aaa1b.org or 833.262.2200


Detroit Area Agency on Aging:

www.detroitseniorsolution.org or 313.446.4444


The Helm at the Boll Life Center:

www.helmlife.org or 313.882.9600


Sharon Williams is an enterprising leader in the health care and community-based services industries. She has led transformative initiatives with the Senior Resource Center, SE Michigan; Detroit Area Agency on Aging; and the NCOA-Aging Mastery Program. She is the CEO of Williams Jaxon Consulting, LLC and can be reached at

sharonr.williams@comcast.net


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