Western students initiate “Wellness Across the Ages” project

CULLOWHEE — Several Western Carolina University freshmen recently learned about aging from a group of experts – participants in Western’s Great Life Series, who were visiting campus from Hendersonville.

As a part of a project called “Wellness Across the Ages,” a select group of Western students from health sciences and nutrition classes developed interview questions to better understand the spiritual, social, occupational, environmental, emotional, intellectual and physical dimensions of wellness.

In their answers to questions from student interviewers, the older adults who participate in the Great Life Series provided their views of what personal wellness and being healthy meant to them.

“They taught us the most important thing in life is to be healthy and happy, how to deal with the joys and sorrows of life and cope with inevitable change,” said Amy Drakeford, one of the student interviewers. “Overall they thought everyone should set goals, stay active and productive and always exercise.”

Western Honors College students will be compiling the interview results and presenting their findings later this semester.

“Wellness Across the Ages” was developed by Tracy Zontek, visiting instructor in the department of health sciences, and Marcia Caserio, Western’s regional director of educational outreach.

“Personal wellness is a positive state of well being that extends throughout your life. It’s feeling good about yourself as a whole – body, mind and soul,” said Zontek.

The Great Life Series is one of a number of programs in the Initiative for Integrative Aging, a collaborative effort between Western and Pardee Memorial Hospital to enhance the lives of adults as they age. The series consists of workshops, retreats and excursions that focus on health, legal and financial issues and social, emotional and spiritual topics.

The Initiative for Integrative Aging was recognized by the South Carolina Geriatric Best Practices Initiative as a “best practice” based on the quality, sustainability and impact of its programs and capacity to replicate programs to other communities, reviewers said.

In addition to the educational programming for older adults, Western offers distance education programs in gerontology at the graduate and undergraduate level. Course work is designed for individuals who work full time and is offered in the evening or on Saturdays and online.

For more information, call the Division of Distance and Continuing Education at (828) 928-4968 or toll free at (800) 928-4968.