Every May, the Administration on Aging, part of the Administration for Community Living, leads our nation's observance of Older American's Month. Older Americans Month, or “Senior Citizens Month,” was established in 1963 through a joint effort between President Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens. The endeavor was to bring attention to the 30% of older Americans living in poverty with limited programs to meet their needs.
Specific themes are established each year to bring attention to current issues of significance affecting older Americans. The theme for 2018 is, Engage at Every Age. This May the focus is on finding ways for seniors to stay active. This begins by embracing the ideology that you are never too old to participate in that which brings you joy and enriches your life.
A healthy lifestyle is important at any age, but it is especially important for seniors. According to the CDC, adults living in America today that make it to 65 can expect to live another 19.3 years. Make the most of those years by adopting good health habits earlier in life. As adults we should exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, practice brain stimulations, not smoke, and not over indulge in alcohol. The healthier you are as an adult the less likely you are to suffer from chronic age-related conditions that can limit functionality later in life.
The eight most common age-related conditions facing seniors are: arthritis, heart disease, cancer, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and pneumonia. Coping with these conditions can be a challenge to an active senior lifestyle, but one rule to overcoming any obstacle in life is not to try do it on your own. Joining a senior group or club for example is a good way for older adults to participate in programs especially designed for them. Today’s senior centers offer everything from trips, fine arts and crafts, concerts, lectures, music and dance, and fitness like yoga and Tai Chi.
Participation goes both ways. Seniors have a lot of knowledge, fellowship, and friendship to share. Here are some ideas on how you can show your appreciation and engage with seniors in your community:
- Host a game day at your local Adult Day Center. Provide games that stimulate the brain and help increase memory.
- Inquire at local Nursing Homes about patients who have little or no visitors and make it part of your weekly routine to stop in for a visit.
- Enjoy lunch at Assisted Living Communities in your area. Share a meal and some good stories with the residents.
- Volunteer with your local Meals on Wheels Program
- Share your company’s efforts with your referral sources, and partner with them to host discussions at senior gatherings hosted by organizations like: The Red Hat Society, Senior Net, or Seniors Meetup Groups. Focus your instruction on topics relevant to the elderly such as: food & nutrition, healthy aging, and the importance of exercising your brain.
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