LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2017) – At 94, Charles Riley’s nearly daily routine includes two hours in the gym – 2 miles on the treadmill, 2 miles on the bicycle and a workout in the weight room – and socializing with friends. His ability to continue living life to the fullest is why the Army veteran and former FBI special agent was presented with a Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging by the University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging.
The awards, now in their sixth year, are a cornerstone event during UofL’s Optimal Aging Month each September, part of a national observation of Healthy Aging Month. They are meant to celebrate and honor older adults who embody the institute’s vision for a world where all older adults lead flourishing lives.
The awards recognize those 85 or older who are outstanding models of optimal aging in four categories: physical, social, spiritual and creative. Twenty-two winners were announced this month, along with 42 others who had been nominated. Riley received his award in the Fitness category.
“Optimal aging is the ability to flourish throughout one’s life,” said Anna Faul, Ph.D., executive director of the institute. “It is not a specific achievement, but rather a state where a person is able to continue living life to its fullest. It is a new understanding of the aging process in which intergenerational, compassionate communities have all the resources available for people to lead physically, socially and emotionally healthy lives, for all the days that they are here.”
The awards, which were presented at a banquet Sept. 8 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, are part of a month of Optimal Aging events being held at UofL. Optimal Aging Month is dedicated to promoting the positive view that aging is an opportunity, not a disease.
”The award winners demonstrate that while ‘aging optimally’ looks different for every person, the spirit of optimal aging is something everyone can strive for,” said Christian Furman, M.D., medical director of the institute. Nominations were taken on the institute’s website and reviewed by the event planning team.
Highlighting the continuing contributions of older adults is part of a larger movement by the institute to transform the way aging is viewed in the community. In October 2016, Louisville became the newest “Age-Friendly City” in Kentucky. The institute is working with city leaders to develop a strategic plan to make Louisville a place where people of all ages can flourish. They hope to accomplish this by improving the support and accommodations needed to help older adults thrive, as well as develop a culture that views all people – regardless of age – as valued members of society, reducing the barriers to social participation.
To read about the winners and see the nominees, visit www.optimalaginginstitute.org/current-recipients. For more information about optimal aging and events during Optimal Aging Month, visit the institute’s website at www.OptimalAgingInstitute.org.