The concept of wellness transcends more than just good health or the absence of illness or disease. Wellness is self-care – taking care of the whole person, mind, body and soul. 

In order to achieve wellness, we must give ourselves the resources to not only survive in our world but to flourish. 

It is an active pursuit in activities and choices that promote our overall health. Specifically, there are six dimensions of wellness: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social and environmental.

Physical wellness is what we typically think as good health: being physically active, eating a healthy diet and sleeping well. On the other side of wellness is our mind and this encompasses our mental, spiritual and emotional aspects. Nourish our minds with lifelong learning, creativity, being in tune with our feelings and the feelings of others and finding the purpose of existence. 

We must examine our social relationships between our loved ones, the community we live in and the planet we live on. This encompasses the last two dimensions: social and environmental. 

San Antonio Oasis has a comprehensive wellness program that helps older adults achieve their wellness goals. The organization is part of the quickly-growing network of nearly 50 nonprofits comprising the Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) coalition, which is led and managed by the San Antonio Area Foundation.

San Antonio Oasis offers a variety of health education classes and programs that span numerous topics in the aspects of nutrition, mental health, fall prevention, chronic disease management, and much more. It also offers an assortment of fitness classes that can fit anyone’s needs, no matter their physical ability.

Another way that San Antonio Oasis promotes wellness is through the goal of reducing social isolation. 

Human beings need each other like they need air, food and water. History has proven this time and time again. In 1960, single-person households accounted for only 13 percent of all U.S. households. In 2022, that number has more than doubled to 29 percent of households. 

Older adults are at higher risk of being socially isolated since 59 percent of those age 85 and over and 38 percent 75 to 84 live alone. Half a million older adults go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Two-fifths of all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company.

The number of older adults experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2026 – a 49 percent increase from 10 years prior. Social isolation can make one sick, both mentally and physically. 

How serious is this issue? In March 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report stating there was a crisis of loneliness, isolation and lack of connection in the United States.

So, what can be done?

Good physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health is one way to prevent social isolation. Another way is to engage in activities, social events and meaningful relationships. There are community resources that can help. 

Silver Connect is a hotline for older adults that gives them an opportunity to speak with trained volunteers. The chat line is a no-judgment zone. A 10-minute phone call can help alleviate social isolation – think about it, just 10 minutes. 

The Silver Connect program is taking volunteers – go here for more information. The next volunteer training session is Sept. 12, 2023.

Kelley Gallant is Program Coordinator and Chelsea Carriker serves as Wellness Coordinator at San Antonio Oasis.