The more I read, the more I realize what we all already know: the key to lowering healthcare costs, managing chronic diseases, and preventing dementia is, to a large extent, a self-directed choice. There is no magic bullet, and waiting for the pharmaceutical white horse to swoop us up and ride off into a healthy sunset is a misguided fairy tale.
But I will be the first to admit that Aging America needs some help. Think-tank brainiacs are working on the provider/access problems to healthcare. Innovative companies like CVS and Walgreens are bending their traditional frameworks to eliminate simple obstacles to care and compliance. Home health companies, including rehabilitation companies like mine, are working hard to keep people in their homes for as long as possible. But there are holes in the public sector where seniors cannot take full advantage of wellness features designed for younger people. The omission begs two questions:
We have dog parks, and skate parks, and ball parks, and toddler parks…. but where are the parks for seniors?
Where are the tax-funded spaces specially geared for the longest-contributing tax-paying citizens of the country?
There are a few playgrounds for seniors around the country, but none (at least that I know of) that address cognitive health as well. Starting with my own community, I hope to be part of the engine that delivers park systems for older adults throughout a wellness-minded America.
I will share more news about the park in Frederick, Maryland as it unfolds. I will also share the special nuances of the park design that make it “holistic and integrative” in the coming weeks. There is plenty of evidence in the literature to support the benefits inherent in specially designed outdoor spaces, including the known benefits of exercise, socialization, and sensory experiences. Perhaps by removing barriers and improving access, and fostering a culture of wellness in Aging America (which is all of America), we can take back our nation’s health.
I believe so strongly in this ideal. If you would like to bring a senior park to your community, please contact me. It’s going to take a lot of villagers to build new villages.
Excited, inspired, and determined. Let’s go.