Who among us doesn’t immediately think about the aching knees, fatigue, or extra pounds when asked “How healthy are you?”  Probing further, “What’s your plan for wellness?” may prompt answers like “fewer calories and more exercise!”  But maybe you are among those who have already learned to stay away from “deficit thinking” and your plan takes into account all the strengths that you do have in the multiple facets of wellness. If yes, then you are already on the same page with leading of Whole Wellness advocate, Jan Montague.

Residents and staff of Plymouth Harbor spent time in person with Jan Montague during her July 10-11 visit.  She’s a dynamo of information and inspiration and she is an internationally recognized expert in wellness in the Third Age.

We learned from Jan that whole-person wellness is multi-dimensional, positive health leading to a satisfactory quality of life and a sense of well-being. This pertains to individuals and an organization or community as a whole.  It’s different from the typical “what’s wrong so we can fix it” or deficit approach to wellness.  Jan talked about a wellness lifestyle perspective that includes self-responsibility, optimism, resilience, positive social support and a consistent can-do attitude.

As Plymouth Harbor follows its mission to complete an expanded Wellness Center by Spring 2014, it’s important to note that, like Whole-Person Wellness, it will not simply be a new class, program, or facilities, but a whole philosophy and approach to maximize strengths and focus on what joyful qualities we all want in our lives.  Jan summarizes this approach as “focusing less on what we don’t want and more of what we want.”

“Life is a constant journey for balance to stay well and staying well is really an inside out endeavor,” shared Jan. Emphasizing that negativity is dangerous, she also urged residents and staff to be careful with the words they use when describing their health as words tend to be self-fulfilling. We get what we focus on. Rather than saying, “I’m a fat, aging, achy person,” she suggested, “I am strong and managing my age and health with grace.” 

There are six dimensions considered for whole-person wellness:

Emotional – moods, self-esteem, optimism, self-efficacy, gratitude, humor
Vocational – feeling useful and needed, participate in lifetime interests, learning new skills
Intellectual – feeling mentally stimulated, learning and interacting, memory
Physical – exercise, nutrition, positive lifestyle habits, safety consciousness and health screening
Spiritual –meaning and purpose, values, devotional rituals, prayer, meditation
Social –relationship with others, welcoming and respectful interactions, social connections and mutual support

“Wellness Coordinator Chris Valuck led the effort to bring Jan Montague here to inspire a broader cultural shift to view everything we do here at Plymouth Harbor through this all-encompassing lens of wellness,” said Tena Wilson.

One reflection of this culture change will be seen in the launch of “Voyages” a refreshed, wellness–centric monthly newsletter which will take the place of the Harbor Light starting with the September issue.  Jan Montague may have returned to her home in California and busy schedule of teaching and training, but her influence will be felt for years to come.