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Mental fitness : a critical component of healthy aging - Summary report of a community research and development project

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The purpose of the mental fitness project was to expand the role of seniors in building a healthy community by developing a group of seniors as mental fitness advocates, and working with them to define the concept of mental fitness and the components of a mental fitness program. Ultimately, our goal was to establish mental fitness as an essential component in a holistic approach to health. Objectives: (1) To explore the relationship between health and learning; (2) To train a group of seniors in public speaking and advocacy, and to support them in advocating and promoting mental fitness as a component of healthy aging; (3) To explore and clarify the concept of mental fitness through research and focus group discussion; (4) To identify the components of a program in mental fitness for seniors. The project was divided into three phases spanning a six-month period: (1) Planning and Promotion; (2) Research and Development; (3) Evaluation and Strategic Planning. PLANNING AND PROMOTION: As the project consultants, we (an adult educator and a community researcher) conducted a preliminary search of the literature during the first phase. Then, a series of planning sessions was held with a steering committee consisting of the centre's Lifelong Learning Advisory Group, the Director and Programmer, and an Adult Education Coordinator from Community Education. The purpose of the meetings was to begin to explore the concept of mental fitness, to establish a detailed work-plan, and to promote and recruit participants for the research and development phase of the project. Potential participants were invited to an introductory session which was promoted in the centre and the local newspaper.
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