KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — September marks Healthy Aging Month, a time designated to focus on the positive aspects of growing older. The Knoxville-Knox County CAC Office on Aging wants more people to look at aging as a glass half-full scenario.

The office and the O’Connor Senior Center focus their programs on not only aging well physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

Angela Bartlett with the office said the mental and emotional aspect of health in older adults has grown more concerning since the start of the pandemic, adding more are feeling lonely.

Aside from the pandemic, Bartlett said older adults can fall into a funk when they decide to retire and struggle to find a sense of purpose.

“A lot of times when we retire, we go through a period that maybe feels like, ‘I don’t have as much of a purpose, I’m not working every day,’” said Bartlett. “So, engaging in volunteer activities, or learning something new, or just in the community in general, getting involved, that really helps to garner that sense of purpose.”

She also said, “it’s a privilege to get older.” That’s why she reminds people it’s up to them how they age.

“A lot of society tells you that, ‘Oh, you’re getting older, you can’t do this, you are too old for that,’ or they typecast you into this frail, breakable object and that’s not the case,” she said. “I mean, the Queen of England was 96 and still running the monarchy, so age is just a number.”

Bartlett acknowledged, of course, there are health conditions for some people that can make getting older more difficult. And the end of the day, she encouraged people to keep exercising their bodies and brains, adding, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

There are plenty of events coming up focused on healthy again through the Office on Aging and the O’Connor Senior Center, including a golf tournament, a health fair, and a job fair. Just head to their website for more information.

In addition to September marking Healthy Aging Month, it also marks Senior Center Month. If people are interested in utilizing the O’Connor Senior Center, they must be at least 50 years old.