Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. The theme for 2021 is “Communities of Strength.”
Older adults have built resilience and strength over their lives through successes, failures, joys, and difficulties. Their stories and contributions help to support and inspire others. This OAM, we will celebrate the strength of older adults and the Aging Network, with special emphasis on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities.
There are many things we all can do to nurture ourselves, reinforce our strength, and continue to thrive. Connecting with others is one of the most important—it plays a vital role in our health and well-being, and in that of our communities. From finding joy in small things and sharing our stories, to looking at the big picture and giving to others, join us in promoting the ways we are connected and strong.
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Two years later, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act of 1965 and formally declared May as Older Americans Month. But the act did much more than raise awareness or encourage community involvement – although it did both of these things well.
Johnson took Kennedy’s proclamation and intentions a step further by taking action that resulted in positive change, financial assistance and federal support for older Americans.
The Older Americans Act:
· established the Administration on Agency, the first federal agency designed to address the struggles of older Americans
· introduced nutrition programs, transportation assistance, federally funded adult day care, legal assistance and other services for seniors
· paved the way to passing the Medicare program to offer health care to seniors
The proclamation didn’t end with Johnson, either. Every president since has offered a formal proclamation declaring May as a time to remember and honor older Americans. Communities organize events, fairs, and fundraisers focusing on seniors.
Each year, the Administration on Aging (AOA) and the Administration of Community Living (ACL) establishes a theme for Older Americans Month and encourages communities to organize events based on the theme.
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
We invite everyone to celebrate Older Americans Month and build “Communities of Strength” this May! Here are some ways to share and connect with older adults in your community:
Intergenerational Pen (or Keyboard) Pals: Encouraging intergenerational pen pals can reduce isolation and increase resilience in people of all ages. Here are some writing prompts to get the conversations started.
Distanced Outdoor Event: Seeing other people in person—even with masks on and from a six-foot distance—can offer a richer sense of connection and community than virtual gatherings. The CDC says that outdoor gatherings with plenty of ventilation, masks, and social distancing pose less risk of spreading COVID-19. Check out our event tip sheet for a fun and safe event!
Reach out to neighbors: Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a home cooked meal.
Volunteer an hour of your time: There are many seniors in your community who could use an hour of your time. Find your local area agency on aging to learn about volunteer opportunities today. Volunteer to be an Ombudsman who advocates for residents in a nursing home or a Veteran in a VA home.
In 2009, I flew from New York to California to spend Mother’s Day with my mom. I was busy with a senior move management business at the time. I had learned from my senior clients that aging in place was often their first choice, not the move to assisted living for which they had hired me. So, with my mom’s low vision issues, a bit of vertigo but generally in good health, I knew that I should pay closer attention to her and her house on this trip.
Her master shower was about 3’ by 3’ (or at least, it felt that way) and did not have grab bars. I made a mental note and then, as vacations go, the time slipped away. I didn’t get that far from California, actually on the flight home, when I began to feel the guilt for not taking the action and getting grab bars installed. I could have had a professional or my brother, the contractor, do the work or I could have made the call and the appointment, at least.
Now, it’s July and I am back in California with mom. This trip I arranged for the grab bars to go into her shower. She was actually grateful and I was relieved. It was a small thing but I knew at the time, years before I was doing this as a professional, that it was the right thing and Mom would never have asked!
I offer this story as a reminder that when we take the action, it saves the angst and guilt and can save a fall, too!
By Fritzi Gros-Daillion, Director of Education for Age Safe America, LLC
Age Safe® America salutes the 700,000 professional social workers in our nation, and the invaluable contributions social workers make in our society, especially as this nation addresses the Coronavirus pandemic. The theme for Social Work Month 2021 is Social Workers Are Essential. Social workers often are unsung heroes, but they play an essential role in helping people from all walks of life and backgrounds to live life to the fullest. As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. You will find social workers throughout society protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment, assisting active duty military, veterans and their families, in schools, helping corporations better serve their communities, and in community organizations as well as in local, state and government.
During the Coronavirus pandemic social workers have been on the frontlines along with doctors, nurses, grocery store staff and other essential employees. As our nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and racial unrest social workers are needed more than ever. They empower people, giving them the skills and encouragement, they need to overcome life’s challenges. They also link clients to resources they may need to live more fulfilled lives. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups and entire communities. Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is expected to rise to more than 800,000 professionals by 2029.
Social work has been around for more than a century and has made significant contributions to our nation. Social work is the only helping profession which requires social justice advocacy as part of its professional code of ethics, and is therefore a large workforce mandated to advance the rights of the most vulnerable in society. For more than 120 years, the social work profession in the United States has helped bend the arc of justice, making our nation a more equitable and inclusive place. In fact, social workers are everywhere people need help navigating tough life challenges. They contribute to interdisciplinary care teams in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, nonprofits, corporations, the military—and in local, state, and federal government. Many social work professionals also own private consultation practices.
#SocialWorkIsEssential #EssentialSocialWorker #SocialWorkMonth #SWMonth and @nasw
A healthier you doesn’t just mean a fitter, stronger body. It also means smiling more, stressing less and being thankful for what you have. So while we’re HUGE fans of meal planning and scheduling time for exercise, we also believe that healthy habits extend beyond numbers on a scale. Here are 6 healthy habits for a happier you.
But first, water.
Yes, even before coffee! Make it a habit to drink 16 ounces of water right when you wake up. It boosts your metabolism, helps with digestion and helps your body rehydrate after hours without taking in any fluids. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will start to crave this refreshing morning ritual!
Make a date with yourself.
Take 20 minutes every day for your very own quiet time, even if this means setting your alarm 25 minutes early each day. We know, making time to do nothing at all can seem impossible, wasteful even. But finding the time to just be helps reduce stress and clears your mind. Take a bath, take a walk, read a book or meditate. (And leave your phone and your smartwatch out of it.)
Sure, you breathe every day. But how often do you actually think about how you’re breathing? Taking a few minutes each day to be aware of how you’re breathing and regulating it can help you reduce your stress, slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure. You can take yoga or tai chi, meditation, or you can just do this quick exercise:
Get cozy in a chair or stretch out in your bed.
Close your eyes and place one hand on your belly.
Take a long deep breath through your nose, feeling your belly rise.
Then, breathe out slowly through the mouth, focusing your attention on the breath.
Of a longtime grudge, regrets, clutter and items you no longer need or want. Let go of to-dos that have been on your list for years and years. Instead, focus on the future, the here and now. Healthy habits take root when you realize what is really important.
In the end, no one will say they wish they spent more time on their phone or social media. So when you’re stuck in traffic, turn up the volume on your favorite song. When your flight is delayed, go enjoy a glass of wine or hot tea. And when you’re out to dinner with friends or at home after a long day at work, be fully there, versus checking your emails or seeing who’s commented on your latest status update. You can find healthy habits in some pretty unlikely places.
At Wayforth we’re more than movers. We’re fellow parents, sons and daughters with a heart for service. That’s why when it comes to helping you and your family move, we don’t take chances. We take action — and extreme precautions. See how our move management specialists are putting your health, safety and peace of mind first. As the nation’s largest move management provider, we eliminate the stress of moving by guiding our clients through the process step by step and delivering done-for-you moving solutions. You choose your new home, we’ll do the rest. Our team is made up of more than more than 400 helping hands dedicated to helping you find your “way forth.” Every individual we bring onboard goes through an extensive 4-phase screening, training, and onboarding process.
Age Safe® America celebrates Occupational Therapy Month and the vital role played by occupational therapists in the lives of Americans of all ages. Their expertise and perspective bring important solutions to help people regain independence in their lives.
We don’t often consider just living and going about our daily routines that what we are doing is actually an occupation – the occupation of living. So the professionals who are trained to help us improve how we manage in our homes in all aspects from work or hobbies to activities of daily living such as getting dressed, cooking, eating and driving are occupational therapists.
Occupational therapists are trained to facilitate life skills for all ages. They can train workers to use the correct ergonomics, help people with low vision or other sensory challenges maintain their independence, make homes more safer and more accessible, evaluate and train older drivers and promote overall health and wellness. The assessment of the environment is baseline for recommendations and solutions. OTs work with older people in their homes or other settings such as nursing homes, to help them to recover from strokes or deal with Alzheimer’s disease. Others choose acute care or home settings to work with accident victims to regain needed skills or offer assistance to people with mental illness. They can work across the age spectrum to help children thrive in the occupation of childhood; they provide tools and skills to enhance learning, growing and play.
As an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, you are part of a vitally important profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Your holistic and customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, assist a person recovering from injuries to regain skills, aid an older adult to stay as independent as possible, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide. Occupational Therapy Month began in 1980. It is in April to correspond with AOTA’s Annual Conference & Expo.
Seniors often struggle to find the right type of exercise that’s easy on the joints and not too rigorous. Low-impact exercise is essential for seniors to stay in good health – as well as get other benefits. However, other low-impact options such as swimming have tricky logistics, such as paying for a membership and traveling to/from a club pool. Chair yoga is growing as a recommended activity for older adults.
For many seniors, exercising at home may be a more convenient and realistic option. In particular, chair yoga is an excellent choice for seniors who want to get low-impact exercise without the hassle. Let’s go over how to get started with chair yoga for seniors.
Benefits of chair yoga
Chair yoga is an adapted version of yoga that’s ideal for seniors and those with chronic pain conditions. Because all movement is done with the support of a chair, seniors won’t struggle to keep their balance or risk falling during movements.
In addition, chair yoga has plenty of health benefits, including:
These are just a handful of the benefits of chair yoga. The most important aspect is that it’s safe and effective for seniors.
What you need to start chair yoga
The beauty of chair yoga is that you only require a chair. You can do chair yoga anywhere, including at home, at a desk or during a flight.
In order to stay comfortable, you might also wear loose-fitting and stretchy clothing. You don’t have to get any yoga-specific gear: anything that’s comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement is fine.
To do chair yoga, you’ll also need to know the poses. You can read about key poses before practicing them, or you might consider downloading a yoga app or watching a YouTube channel for guided chair yoga classes. Often these materials are free and easy to follow.
Chair yoga poses to get started
When you start chair yoga, you’ll find that the poses are easy to understand. Most are variations of traditional yoga that require stretching your arms or back. Here are some popular chair yoga poses that you can try at home:
Raised hands pose: Raise your hands towards the ceiling as you inhale. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Forward bend: Bend forward from the waist and let your arms and head hang. Rest your hands on the floor.
Seated spinal twist: Sit facing forward and twist your torso towards the back of the chair. Hold the back of the chair for support, if needed. Repeat on both sides.
Chair pigeon: Place your ankle on the opposite thigh. Your knee should stay aligned with your ankle. You can hold your foot and knee for support, if needed. Repeat on both sides.
Chair cat-cow: Place your hands on your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Inhale and roll your shoulders to arch your back (cow). Exhale and round your spine, letting your head drop to your chest and your shoulders roll forward (cat).
Star pose: Stretch your hands and feet into an X (like a star). Reach as far as you can without losing balance.
Remember to start these poses slowly and hold them for 5-10 seconds whenever possible. Chair yoga sessions don’t have to be long either. You can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as 45 minutes to do the poses of your choice.
More yoga resources
If you’re interested in getting more information, the Living Better YouTube channel also has a ton of guided chair yoga classes. Start your chair yoga journey today and get the health benefits in no time.