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An appreciation luncheon reveals keys to an optimum life

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image Dr. Jim Concotelli, Optimum Life Director at Brookdale Senior Living, addresses volunteers during an appreciation luncheon. Photo Mitch Traphagen

Aging is in many ways relative. "Most people don't feel old on the inside."

By Mitch Traphagen

SUN CITY CENTER — At Homewood Residence at Freedom Plaza in Sun City Center, there is such a thing as a free lunch.  On March 7, the prominent senior living facility sponsored a “lunch and learn” event, primarily to say thank you to the selfless work of the volunteers at South Bay Hospital.  But something more than a lunch with dessert was offered.

The event featured a presentation by Dr. Jim Concotelli, MSW, Ph.D., Brookdale Senior Living’s Optimum Life Director, on the spiritual growth that comes only with the gift of years, along with the latest research on the benefits of spiritual practices such as meditation, positive attitude and gratitude and how those things can guide people on the path to healthy aging.

According to Bev Hurley of Homewood Residence, 46 volunteers were included in the appreciation luncheon, an act of gratitude that served as an appropriate parallel to one of the messages of the presentation.

Dr. Concotelli mixed humor with the results of research that revealed the keys to an optimum life aren’t mere happenstance; they fall under the control of each person. 
The physical dimension involves caring for your body through good health practices.  The emotional dimension means honoring your feelings and those of others. The purposeful dimension says to pursue your passions, gifts and values.  The social dimension says to remain connected to your family and friends.  The spiritual dimension means to draw strength, hope and inner peace from a source beyond yourself and the intellectual dimension says to engage in learning that inspires creativity, imagination and curiosity, regardless of your years.

The dimensions are intertwined and interact, such as with the spiritual dimension that not only includes faith and a personal belief system, but also a continuing search for the meaning and purpose of life, a quest that would involve all six dimensions.

Dr. Concotelli touched further on spirituality by providing research that suggested that older adults who practiced religion tended to report better health and that hospitalized people who attended church had an average stay that was three times shorter.

The challenge for seniors, he said, involved gaining trust and hope, to avoid giving up, and to remain as fully alive as long as possible.

That can be partially achieved through benefits that can only come from aging, such as a shift from a materialistic and pragmatic view of the world to a more cosmic and transcendent vision, which involves an enhanced appreciation of small joys and the discovery of inner strengths.

Aging is in many ways relative.  “Most people don’t feel old on the inside,” Dr. Concotelli said, quoting author Joan Chittister.

The presentation, part of the Ageless Spirit program from Brookdale Senior Living, has been recognized with the Innovator’s Award from the International Council on Active Aging.

For more information on Homewood Residence at Freedom Plaza and Brookdale Senior Living, visit www.brookdaleliving.com

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