Buckhead Residents Reboot Retirement With Active Aging

September 25, 2014

Tango Dancing at Lenbrook Kicks Off 2014 Active Aging Week Sept. 21-27

At left: Lenbrook residents warm up for a modified tango dance lesson held in celebration of Active Aging Week 2014, Sept. 21-28, at the senior living community in Buckhead.


ATLANTA -- (Sept. 15, 2014) In just 15 years, the youngest of the baby boomers will turn 65 and a record 20 percent of U.S. adults will be age 65-plus -- nearly double the number in 2000. Demographers concur retiring boomers are altering the way society perceives aging and retirement. The shift from passive retirement to "active aging" is already underway with national "Active Aging Week 2014" taking place Sept. 21-27 this month.

                Sponsored by the International Council on Active Aging and supported by many partners such as the National Council on Aging, the 12th annual weeklong celebration highlights the active aging philosophy which encourages adults 50-plus to live life to its fullest at every age and optimize their well-being throughout their lives.

The ICAA and others have identified seven key dimensions of wellness that fuel the active aging lifestyle: physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, vocational, emotional and environmental.

                Meet two seniors from the Lenbrook senior community in Buckhead who embody active aging at its best and who have transformed their retirement years well before the phrase "active aging" emerged: Louis Hiett and Cecile Hooks.

                Hiett (89) retired from a 36-year career with Procter and Gamble in product development management. This chemical engineering graduate from Georgia Tech has now been retired for almost as long as he worked. "We must be doing something right," Hiett says with a chuckle and referring to his wife, Virginia. They've been married for 65 years -- the very age baby boomers are just now beginning to reach.

                You'll find Hiett and his wife delivering meals to seniors in Atlanta every week through their involvement in Meals on Wheels, a program dedicated to helping seniors stay healthy and independent as long as possible. They still travel (heading to Europe next month) and have been active community volunteers even before Hiett retired in 1985.

                For himself, Hiett works out two to three days a week in Lenbrook's weight room and fitness center.     His most recent passion has been the development of "The Lenbrook Forum," a series of weekly, monthly and quarterly intellectual programs that provide leading-edge speakers, the "Great Course" video lecture series, monthly book review discussions and small discussion groups for the Lenbrook residents. "You have to keep learning and keep thinking. The Forum gives us plenty of opportunities to think," he explained.

                Cecile Hooks keeps to a weekly schedule that would never let on she's 85. She works out five days a week doing Pilates, aerobics and yoga; takes weekly dance and oil painting lessons; dances at the Lenbrook tea dances every Saturday and at the happy hour dances twice a month. She attends church on Sundays, where she leads a Bible class for the women's circle. Hooks has an undergraduate degree in education from Florida State University and a master's of arts from Presbyterian School of Christian Education (now Union Seminary).

                An accomplished oil painter, Hooks is chair of Lenbrook's 2014 Art Festival taking place during Active Aging Week and is editor of the residents' monthly newsletter. She's held both of these positions for the past several years. For pure fun, Hooks admits, her favorites are the happy hour and tea dances. "I'm there every week whooping it up," Hooks said. "I encourage people to get active in a community as soon as they can. Being active is the only way to live," she said.

                To kick off Active Aging Week, Lenbrook is hosting a tango dance exhibition and lesson on Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. in the Lenbrook ballroom and event center. Nonresidents are welcome to attend by making a reservation with Lenbrook at 404-504-2429 as space is limited. This tango lesson is unique in that it will include "adaptive tango" movements pioneered by a local research scientist at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation and assistant professor in general medicine and geriatrics at Emory, Madeline Hackney, PhD.

                "We focus on 'whole-person wellness' year round at Lenbrook but Active Aging Week lets us showcase what it means to flourish and live life more fully each day," said Lisa Kiely, director of enrichment for Lenbrook.

Lenbrook's enrichment programs begin with a choice of 20 fitness classes a week -- Pilates, yoga, land and water aerobics  -- and include a total of 180 other events and activities each month. These programs and services provide enrichment in all seven dimensions of wellness. For example, Lenbrook community holds multiple faith services on campus weekly, hosts support groups, conducts field trips and off-site excursions, offers book clubs, card tournaments, music concerts, ballroom dance lessons, art classes, educational speakers and more.

"The active-aging philosophy celebrates older adults as full participants in the cultural, civic and personal areas of life,” said Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging. “Active Aging Week is the time to recognize the benefits of active aging on a national scale and to provide opportunities to learn more about healthy, active living,” he said. The theme for Active Aging Week 2014 is "Let the Adventure Begin."