Older Americans have, and continue, to shape our nation. They have built careers, raised families and served our country, while experiencing turmoil, change and great advances in technology and health care through the years. Older Americans serve as role models for future generations and are still making a difference in our communities through their contributions and involvement.
To recognize the impact older adults have in our communities, UnityPoint at Home is excited to celebrate Older American’s Month. When established in 1963, Older Americans Month supported the roughly 17 million Americans reaching retirement age. As of July 2011, there were approximately 42 million people age 65 or older in the United States. With these numbers on the rise, awareness for the well-being of older Americans and acknowledgement of their many contributions is more important than ever.
The theme for this year’s Older Americans Month is “Get into the Act.” This year’s goals are to provide education on how older adults can take charge of their health and promote the many benefits community engagement has on overall well-being. Together, we can promote healthy aging, tackle issues like prevention of elder abuse, and create a better community for everyone!
Hope for a Healthier Tomorrow
The focus on a healthy lifestyle is often viewed as difficult to begin and a challenge to maintain. This doesn’t have to be the case. Incorporate activities that you already enjoy into your daily routine to keep yourself happy and active! Focus on things that you like to do so that this time is more of a pleasure than a chore.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride for some fresh air and exercise. Start with short walks and bike rides and you’ll be surprised to see how much your endurance will improve over a few weeks! Reach out to your healthcare provider to create an exercise plan that will work for you! You’ll be able to keep up with the grandkids in no time!
Right up there with exercise, getting your regular physical is critical to maintaining a healthier tomorrow! Something that may seem insignificant to you might be a red flag for your physician that could save your life. Diseases of any sort are best caught early and treated right away.
Increase Community Involvement
Volunteering in your local community is a “win” for everyone. Your fellow citizens and neighbors are the first to benefit from your service but certainly not the last. According to a survey done by GALLUP, Americans who act to better their community have a higher overall sense of well being. Whether it’s your community or an organization, volunteering and being involved helps you build a social connection to others while decreasing the stresses in your own life.
Thanks to websites like Volunteer Match, it’s easy to find areas of your community to lend a helping hand. Whether you like working with animals or your human counterpart, it’s easy to find something that will help you better yourself and the community at the same time.
Safety for Older Adults
Taking steps to increase one's safety is important at any age! It’s especially important to keep safety on the forefront of our thoughts as we age. Some things may become more difficult as we age, so consider creating a self-help checklist to understand when you do need more assistance with day-to-day activities. If driving is more difficult than it used to be, chances are you are putting your safety and others at risk. Know when it’s time to hand over the keys and take a ride from a friend or family member.
Preparing your home for challenges that may be forthcoming is also a great idea. If it’s challenging to maneuver the stairs in your house now, someday those may become unmanageable. UnityPoint at Home has occupational therapists who go into the homes of their patients and determine potential safety hazards and how to best fix them. The goal is to make sure patients can live comfortably and safely in their homes.
As a caregiver, abuse prevention is also something that cannot be ignored. While it’s not often talked about, the problem does exist. Help prevent any neglect or abuse to your loved ones by keeping a watchful eye to identify any issues that may arise. Look out for a lack of hygiene, medical aid and inadequate facilities. If you notice any red flags, be sure to report them to the appropriate professionals.
While May provides a specific time to show our gratitude and support for older adults, UnityPoint at Home provides education on wellness and opportunities for community involvement year-round. Learn more about healthy aging with UnityPoint at Home and our volunteer opportunities today!