MAY IS OLDER AMERICANS MONTH
“COMMUNITIES OF STRENGTH”… THIS YEAR’S THEME FOR OLDER AMERICANS MONTH.
MAY IS OLDER AMERICANS MONTH, A TIME TO FOCUS ON THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION.
Healthy aging has allowed older Americans to live and experience the ups and downs of life, remain resilient and strong, and keep on going. A feat made more challenging in a year with the added struggles of a life-disrupting pandemic.
Being isolated from family and friends has challenged all of us to nourish ourselves and remain steadfast. Now, as we near the end of a difficult year, reconnecting and engaging with family and community is vital to staying healthy and strong.
THE OLDER AMERICAN POPULATION CONTINUES TO RISE
The number of adults living in the United States, over the age of 60 increased by 34% in the last 10 years. This number is expected to grow significantly and the Census Bureau estimates the number of older adults to reach 94.7 million by 2060.
People age 65 and older represented 16% of the population in the year 2018 but are expected to grow to be 21.6% of the population by 2040.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) supports a variety of programs for older adults and people with disabilities, and their families and caregivers. Every year ACL leads in the observance of Older Americans Month (OAM) in May. This month’s theme, Communities of Strength, emphasizes the importance of connecting and engaging to build strong communities.
COMMUNITIES OF STRENGTH
Humans are social beings. We do best with involvement, connection, and togetherness with others. This feeling of belonging can positively impact our mental health whether it is virtual or in person. Additionally, it fosters motivation, friendships, fitness and provides learning opportunities.
On the other hand, a lack of support and social connection can cause chronic loneliness, harm our psyche, and increase stress. In other words, make us sick!
CELEBRATING STRENGTH WITH PURPOSE AND PERSPECTIVE
Strength is not just physical. It can be emotional, or a talent, or the wisdom that comes from life’s experiences. Help older friends or family members identify what they are good at, and recognize how it can help others. Put a plan in place to call on friends, family, or neighbors and help start a community. If you know someone that enjoys reading, encourage them to start or join a book club. Book clubs are great ways to meet new friends and get other’s perspectives. Volunteering at a local library provides an opportunity to read to children, or lead discussion groups.
Or for someone who enjoys being in the kitchen suggests they offer to prepare meals for senior centers or help out at a food pantry. Also, knitters and sewers can make blankets or masks for the homeless or front line workers. The American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities.
For those that are part of a multigenerational family, telling younger members about life in “the old days” is a wonderful way to pass along important family memories. Moreover, when we take the time to listen to the valuable stories and life lessons of older adults it helps them relive special memories and feel proud of their lives. Helping to make a family tree provides invaluable information for the next generation and preserves family history.
OLDER AMERICANS FIND JOY IN LITTLE THINGS
For older adults, even just sitting with a cup of coffee in the morning sun or completing a crossword or jigsaw puzzle can bring satisfaction and enjoyment.
Older adults can nd joy in many little things such as catching a glimpse of the birds outside the kitchen window or observing the blooms and leaves that are reappearing with the change of season. Offer to take a walk with a senior on a nice spring day or help tend to a backyard garden.
If you know an older adult that would enjoy a visit from a pet, bring your dog or cat for a social call. A simple thing like hugging a pet or getting a sloppy kiss, can be comforting and bring joy. Many older adults and joy in hearing a simple song or melody. When visiting, have a sing-along or bring an instrument to play. Also, watch for outdoor concerts in the area and offer to accompany them.
Since the pandemic things have changed, but not all for the bad. We have given up some of the things that we used to rush through to get more things done. But this has allowed us to slow down and notice new things that have always been there.
FIND NOURISHMENT FOR BODY AND SOUL
Nourishment is not only sustenance for the body but also support for the soul. Both need to be fed and tended to. Unfortunately, some seniors do not get the proper nutrition they need for their physical as well as mental health. Providing even one healthy meal per day can prevent malnutrition and reduce the risk of illness.
Older adults living alone, often don’t want to cook or prepare meals for themselves. Help out an older neighbor or friend by offering to bring a meal once a week. Or put them in contact with programs available in the community.
Among their many programs for seniors, ACL has a Health, Wellness, and Nutrition program that offers home-delivered meals and meals for older adults in congregate settings. These provide nutrition for those that are home-bound or in senior centers.
The Health, Wellness, and Nutrition program also provides nutrition screening, assessment, and education. In addition, their home-health and homemaking services promote socialization, physical activity, and fall prevention. More information can be obtained on their website, acl.gov.
Our Wholesome Village program is designed to provide non-perishable, shelf-stable meals created to meet the specific medical needs of our clients. Our meal packages include three meals and one snack per day. All the meals are planned by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and adhere to state requirements.
Wholesome Village has prepared and provided many meals to seniors and those at risk of hospital readmission or food insecurity, with the goal of achieving health, wellness, and nutrition.
If you are interested in learning more about our program click on the Wholesome Village Meals link on the top tab or contact us for information today at 240-449-3094!