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It's Gotta Be Personal

August is National Wellness Month.

Recently Americans have been dealing with two major societal level issues - the Coronavirus pandemic and the heightened awareness of racism. A commonality between both issues is that many people do not realize the severity of either issue unless they have been personally affected. Being personally affected is the number one catalyst for changing one’s mind and behaviors.

It’s an interesting aspect of human behavior that is observable across many scenarios. For example, even with all the health warnings, a smoker may not quit smoking until they themselves have health problems. A person may not wear sunscreen until they start noticing wrinkles on their skin. The same can be said for people engaging in most activities that promote their own wellness. Even when a person knows about the incredible benefits of wellness, they often do not participate…unless there is a personal motivation to do so.

This is why ActivLife is so effective at increasing engagement in wellness behaviors - because we make it personal. August is National Wellness Month, so it’s a great time to understand what it takes to increase engagement in activities that positively impact one’s own personal wellness.

The science behind ActivLife allows us to tap into an individual’s personal values and motivations. We survey each individual to identify that person’s emotional drivers. We then use that as the foundation to create a personalized wellness plan for that individual. This personalization allows our recommendations to be spot on, as they connect with the underlying reasons a person engages in any health behavior. Once things become personal, we see action!

ActivLife is based on the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change (TTMC). If you’re not familiar with it, in a nutshell, this model explains the different stages someone can be at in respect to their own mindset and behavior choices. For example, if someone thinks meditation is silly, they will probably not consider joining in a meditation class, and be “pre-contemplative”, or not interested. If someone has heard good things about meditation, but don’t know how to do it, they are “contemplative” and likely to join a class if invited. If someone is already meditating regularly, they are “active” and may even help get others interested in joining a class.

Knowing what stage an individual is in allows us make recommendations that are not only needed and impactful for that person but also most likely to be followed. We understand there’s no point in recommending someone do something they have no intention of doing.

Now let’s consider an example of how to leverage personalization to help a resident engage and thrive. Maria recently moved into a senior community to be close to her daughter who will visit a couple times a month. From the interest inventory she was given upon moving in we know she enjoys art history, weaving, historical fiction, and cooking. What the team doesn’t know is that Maria is an introvert and somewhat socially anxious. Her late husband was her connection to her social circle, and she hasn’t made a new friend on her own in over 40 years. Besides inviting her to the monthly cooking demo and the book club (which unfortunately rarely reads historical fiction) how would the wellness team at Maria’s new community help her get engaged and get her wellness needs met?

An effective solution starts by inquiring about Maria’s personal priorities and motivations regarding her wellness. The team will be much more successful if they understand what areas of wellness she will be most likely to engage in. Maria takes the ActivLife survey and the team discovers that she does some balance exercises on her own, but would like to do more, since she has already fallen once and afraid of falling again. She also is concerned about her memory because she can’t remember the names of the new people she is meeting. And, while she has a good relationship with her daughter, she would like to feel like she fits in at her new community.

Armed with this level of insight, the team can easily guide Maria to engage in some new areas of wellness that she cares about and is motivated to participate in because she herself has identified that she has concerns in these areas, that she isn’t happy where she is at, and is motivated to try. A good recommendation must be one that Maria will do. The ActivLife survey allows the staff to provide Maria with the wellness programming that she will benefit from, whether it be classes offered in the community or self-guided options she can do on her own.

When a wellness program is personalized, the person with the plan feels more connected, more understood, more supported, and more invested and likely to engage. To find out more about how to personalize the wellness programming for your community please reach out to us at and request a demo today. Your residents’ and their loved ones will thank you!

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