The concept of “Wellness” has blossomed in the last 40 years, but this approach to life still eluded aging adults. As late as 2000, retirement was still viewed as the end of “a life well lived” rather than the second act of our own play. While working with a test group, someone in the group quipped, “I already know I’m aging, you don’t have to show me!” And a lightbulb turned on.
Yes, of course.
The question wasn’t about whether or not aging exists, but about how we respond to aging. We must pursue aging with vigor, because it is certainly pursuing us. There is a better response to aging than resignation. To emphasize this point the word how became an acronym which resulted in the three pillars upon which Learning H.O.W. to Age® rests:
H- Honor the past. Learning H.O.W. to Age® honors each participants past by encouraging incorporation of their knowledge and experience in group discussions, development of class participation guidelines, and by utilizing the licensed journals for personal recall and memory work.
O- Open to the present. Learning H.O.W. to Age® encourages participants to be open to the new ideas and experiences this program provides. Cultivating mental curiosity, Learning H.O.W. to Age® sparks excitement about what each new class will reveal—like opening a box of Cracker Jacks and finding a surprise inside!
W- Welcome the future. Participants begin to look forward to trying out these new skills and enjoying the benefits that come with Learning H.O.W. to Age®.
This is the “HOW” in Learning H.O.W. to Age®
Conceived by Angie Dortch, Learning H.O.W. to Age® is the convergence of science and performing arts. The best of both worlds, this program brings cutting edge research about the brain and awareness together with skill-developing games from acting, dance, and voice. In 2014, she and Dortch’s mom, Janice (age 70) beta tested the program in retirement communities and assisted living facilities.
In 2020, the very population this program was designed for was at great health risk and so she spent the next year retooling the program for individual participation via video lessons. Learning H.O.W. to Age® is now offered to healthcare providers as a licensed wellness program for active aging communities making this one of a kind program directly available to more people, while maintaining high standards and outcomes.
Angie Dortch earned her M.F.A. in 1991, was an adjunct professor at University of Louisville for 10 years, is married and the mother of two. She is currently a member of the International Council on Active Aging.
It’s been said aging is not for the faint of heart. That is true. But successfully aging is also not for those who stick their head in the sand and hope it goes away. Janice was never one to stick her head in the sand. Like many, Janice Deaton had both a heartbreaking and a happy life. And the lessons she demonstrated in resilience and tenacity inspired a lot of Learning H.O.W. to Age® Married to one man, mother to three daughters, grandmother to four, teacher of civics and math, homemaker, high school valedictorian, cheerleader, and eldest girl of twelve siblings; she was also a widow for 20 years, a grieving parent after the death of her youngest at age 24, and successfully managed type-one diabetes for more than 50 years.
From the age of 31, Janice woke each day determined to learn more about and live with a diagnosis that used to be termed “juvenile onset” diabetes (https://insulinnation.com/treatment/diabetes-care-through-history/ ). At a time when diabetes management was little more than trial and error, she “took the bull by the horns” and domesticated that beast. Her daily commitment to exercise and physical activity undoubtedly prevented some of the expected ravages of an endocrine system under constant assault. Her mental curiosity and inquisitive mind certainly braced her when faced with vascular dementia.
Dortch says, "As my inspiration for Learning HOW to Age™️, my mother’s life is a model to be emulated. May her moxie encourage all who seek health, happiness, and hope."