Living Your Best Life After 50

Posted on 05/08/24 by Don Harmon

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Life@50+ Academy Welcome Team, from left: Johnnie. Mikel, Katherine Ponds, Congressman Gerald E. Connolly, Vernon Walton, Denise King-Miller, Opal Elliott, and Amber Sultane (credit: David Hayford)

AARP recently held its annual Life@50+ Academy: Planning for Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness. The event was hosted at the Seniors With a Purpose Ministry (SWAP) of the First Baptist Church of Vienna (FBCV), and supported by a number of local organizations.

The Lfe@50+ Academy helps people meet the challenges of aging and to set goals to be active, financially unburdened and happy as they grow older.

Johnnie Mickel, program co-chair and FBCV SWAP Ministry, opened the program and spoke of her vision to bring this academy to the church. She introduced Vernon C. Walton, senior pastor of FBCV, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, who represents the 11th District of Virginia, and Opal Elliott, AARP Virginia volunteer and program co-chair.

Walton welcomed all the attendees and related his experience over 10 years leading the church. This was also significant for Connolly who had been a part of the church dedication 10 years earlier. The congressman summarized many of the programs in Fairfax County for seniors and how Fairfax was working to meet the needs of older adults.

Elliott concluded the program opening remarks by introducing Denise King-Miller, founder of Seventy Forever and the keynote speaker, who related her experience growing up, when she was judged as being not normal, because of African-American stereotypes. However, she overcame early obstacles to earn five academic degrees and contribute five decades of professional experience as an educator, life coach, university professor, diversity consultant, triathlete, and ordained minister. She established Seventy Forever as a community that helps women envision a long, graceful and vibrant life as they age.

King-Miller emphasized that people should not hold onto pain and should practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is the first step to happiness. This means that happiness is not a feeling, it is a choice, and a skill to be learned. She introduced her Pillars of Happiness. These include faith, work, family and friends, community service, physical and mental well-being, flow, finding and using your strengths, mindfulness, and practicing love. Pursuing these objectives in a life-long journey can achieve happiness.

Elliott then introduced the workshops available to attendees. The first segment included the following two workshops:

· Social Security: Making the Most of Your Benefits led by Pamela Sams, AARP Virginia, and

· Fraud Basics: Protecting Your Money and Assets from Scammers led by Karen Morgan, AARP Maryland.

Following the first segment workshops, there was a second segment with the following offerings:

· Downsizing and Decluttering led by Genesis Brown, AARP Virginia, and

· Making Sense of Caregiving Costs led by Katherine Ponds, AARP Virginia.

Several community organizations also provided representatives and tables to answer questions and provide information about their services. These included:

· Rep. Gerald Connolly’s office (

· AARP Wish of a Lifetime (

· Shepherds Center of Northern VA (

· Insight Memory Care (

· Fairfax Area Agency on Aging (

· AARP Virginia (

This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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