Headshot of Cari Brastad

Q&A with Health & Wellness Navigator Cari Brastad: Creating a Healthy-Aging Plan

As 2021 is winding down and the new year is quickly approaching, we sat down with our very own health & wellness navigator, Cari Brastad, to learn how to jumpstart the new year with a healthy-aging plan.


From adopting healthy habits and managing health conditions, to staying involved in your community and navigating housing and health care decisions, this type of planning helps you be proactive about your physical and mental health, or a loved one’s health, as you age. Healthy-aging planning allows you to stay active and independent well into your golden years – not just adding years to life, but life to years.

How can you work with your health care provider to create a “plan” designed to help you stay active and independent as you age?

First, you should start by finding a health care provider who you are comfortable with and who is willing to spend time getting to know you and what is important to you. Seniors are more successful when they have a doctor/provider who they value and trust, and when that provider is invested in knowing them.

It is important to clearly communicate with your provider what is important to you and to give them a clear picture about your lifestyle – be truthful in self-reporting. Creating a healthy-aging plan for someone who is already very active compared to creating a plan for an inactive person is very different.

It is also important to follow the designed plan and to speak up if the plan isn’t working for you. If that’s the case, it’s time to reevaluate the plan with your provider.

What should you consider that you may not be thinking about just yet?

It is essential that you communicate your health goals and wishes to your health care provider.

Another main thing to work on with your health care provider is a living will, advance healthcare directive or a Five Wishes document. These documents clearly communicate what is important to you. They allow you to express your wishes about medical procedures and goals of your care as you age. These documents take into consideration your own past experiences with aging loved ones and how you felt about their care, and how you would like to be treated if you find yourself in a similar position.

It is also imperative to review these documents periodically – especially after big life changes such as retirement, a divorce or marriage, death of a spouse or loved one, and milestone birthdays. Your outlook on life and what you value may change as you age and gain life experience.

You, your family or loved ones, and your health care provider should all have copies of these documents.

What questions should you ask about your routines, your screenings, your insurance coverage, and so on, if you want to live as independently as possible for as long as possible?

Giving your provider a detailed medical history including family history is essential to assisting you with planning for your future health needs. Ask them questions about when routine screenings are needed and for how long – and what age certain screenings are no longer needed.

Consider investigating long-term care insurance plans – policies that can help cover the expenses associated with long-term care.

Most importantly, start investigating senior living options before you actually need them. It is vital to know what is available to you, how much different communities cost and what they provide. Know where you would want to live before you need to live in a community.

Compare traditional senior living communities to Life Plan Communities in your search. Life Plan Communities like Trillium Woods provide several lifestyle options, so you can choose the one that fits your needs and the way you want to live, and if your health needs change, Life Plan Communities provide residents with access to high-quality health care. The most common complaint I hear from seniors is that they wish they would have moved to their community sooner so they could benefit from all the amenities and lifestyle freedom.

Trillium Woods Health & Wellness Navigator Cari Brastad has been a registered nurse for 18 years, with 24 years’ overall experience working in senior living. She is passionate about caring for clients, providing exceptional customer service and care.