Vital Aging: Active Adults

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senior in VA older adult programAn active, vibrant individual who spends much of his time attempting to improve his community and his world, Julius Knox Singleton is not simply the spokesman for the Vital Aging Program and the President Emeritus of the Lifetime Learning Institute of NOVA/NVCC; he is the model of a vitally aging individual. Singleton has been volunteering to improve the lives of our nation’s growing older adult population since retiring in 1978. As a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia, Singleton specialized in counseling older adults and children of aging parents. After working as a counselor for ten years and serving on the Fairfax County Commission on Aging for ten years, he assisted Dr. James Firman, the president of the National Council on the Aging, in developing the concept of “Vital Aging.”

“Vital Aging” is defined as “striving to experience physical and cognitive vitality, emotional and social well being, and spiritual growth until the end of life, including dying own on one’s own terms, in so far as possible.” The development of this concept and the creation of subsequent workshops and training programs have led to major advancements in the fields of gerontology and older adult psychology. However, the influence of this concept extends far beyond academe.

The Vital Aging program proposes to simultaneously improve the self-esteem and well-being of older adults and to serve community needs by utilizing the rapidly growing older adult population: “Older adults, not prematurely disabled but experiencing Vital Aging, could meet much more of the desperately needed human and public services now existing in our local, state, national and world society, either through paid employment (full or part-time) or volunteering.” Continued involvement in the community would help to foster continued social and intellectual growth in the older adult population. One need not look any farther than Julius Knox Singleton’s on-going service to his community to see that it is possible to grow and improve with age-to age vitally.

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