On National Senior Citizens Day we celebrate the people who are part of the fastest-growing demographic in the world. According to the traditional definition, a senior citizen is anyone older than 60 years of age, but this seems relatively young in today’s society! This day was declared to celebrate, honor, and give thanks to all the contributions that generations of individuals have given to their families and communities. Whether it is showing gratitude for a loved one, friend, elder you care for, or close member of your community, take time on August 21st to reach out and show your appreciation.
On August 19th, 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared August 21st National Senior Citizens Day. Here is what he had to say: “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” – President Ronald Reagan
Some great ways to do this could be:
- Taking your loved one out to the movies – everyone can appreciate a nice matinee!
- Creating a video of different family members discussing their favorite memories with the individual.
- Want to get your kids involved? Many local assisted living and nursing homes offer “adopt-a-grandparent” programs, linking up young children with seniors. This is a great way to not only get your kids involved with the community, but also inform them about the significance of Senior Citizens Day.
- Creating a personalized picnic with all their favorite foods.
- Treating your loved one to a nice meal out.
- Offering a helping hand with any small things they need done around the house.
- Something as simple as making a phone call to show how much you love and support them.
- Don’t have someone specifically in mind to celebrate? Volunteer at local assisted living homes or veterans homes.
If you are a senior citizen yourself, well, Senior Citizens Day is all about you. Live a little! Spend time with your favorite people. Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae. Knock something off your bucket list. Or just relax with friends and family. Do whatever floats your boat, because the day is dedicated to you! You’ve earned it!
Happy Senior Citizens Day!
As it turns out, turmeric (more specifically its active compound, curcumin) is more than just a delicious seasoning for your favorite Indian takeout dish. This fragrant yellow spice, a close relative of ginger, is also renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant effect, weight management support, and pain relief. Wondering if supplementing with turmeric can help improve your pain in a natural way? Turmeric (curcumin) shows a surprising number of health benefits:
One of the most compelling benefits of using turmeric is its pain relief properties. One study conducted by the Cytokine Research Laboratory found that the curcumin in turmeric was a more effective anti-inflammatory than aspirin and ibuprofen, and has pain-relief properties on par with phenylbutazone and hydrocortisone. This is fantastic news for people with chronic pain who are concerned about the negative side effects (like liver damage and ulcers) that can arise with long-term or heavy use of NSAIDs.
Curcumin is also renowned for its antioxidant properties, which can make a big difference in how quickly your body heals! The cells in your body create “free radicals” as part of their normal metabolic cycle. And when inflammation is present in the body, free radical production goes up. Without antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals), these harmful free radicals have the potential to further damage the cells and organs in the body. Adding antioxidants like curcumin to your diet while you recover from an injury can help your body heal.
Using Turmeric for Inflammation
While there isn’t a standardized dose of turmeric, many studies have concluded that, even at high doses, turmeric is safe for consumption. The most common mild side effect that you may notice is gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be avoided if you add turmeric to your diet slowly (instead of a high dose all at once!) In general, it’s a good idea to take the most natural (organic and minimally processed) form of turmeric/curcumin that you can find, to help your body most easily absorb it.
The most common ways to use turmeric/curcumin include the following:
You can make turmeric paste by mixing ¼ cup turmeric powder with ½ cup water, then heating on low until a thick paste is formed. This mixture can be kept in your fridge for several weeks. This paste can be eaten in turmeric milk (recipe below) or applied topically by mixing with coconut oil or olive oil spreading across the affected area. Massage this paste into the skin, wrap with plastic wrap, and leave on for an hour.
Add a piece of raw turmeric root (½ inch to 1 inch) or a teaspoon of turmeric paste to a cup of milk in a saucepan. Heat slowly to simmer, but do not boil. Any kind of milk (almond milk, coconut milk, cow’s milk) will work! For turmeric tea, repeat this same process with water. If you like, add a little bit of butter and maple syrup!
Curcumin can also be taken in concentrated form through capsules. Make sure you consult with a doctor on the right dosage for you before you begin taking curcumin capsules, since this method of taking turmeric is the most potent, and your doctor will have helpful insight into your unique health history.
Curcumin can also be taken as a food-grade essential oil, either topically or by mouth. If you don’t like the taste of turmeric milk, this can be a good way to take turmeric in a concentrated form! Keep in mind that, like other anti-inflammatories, turmeric is a blood thinner and should not be taken during pregnancy or before surgeries and medical procedures. Turmeric can also change how some medications interact with your body (like anti-depressants). When in doubt, ALWAYS talk to your doctor! Keep in mind that while turmeric shows a lot of potential for lowering inflammation and pain, it won’t treat the underlying cause of your pain.
No matter how old or out of shape you think you are, it is never too late to add more physical activity to your life. Exercise is important for everyone, especially for people with disabilities. Regular and consistent exercise can:
- Help you control your weight. Along with healthy diet, exercise plays an important role in preventing obesity.
- Reduce your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens the heart, improves circulation and can lower blood pressure.
- Improve your mental health and mood. During exercise, the body releases chemicals that can help you handle stress and reduce the risk of depression.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities can help increase and maintain muscle mass while slowing the loss of bone density that naturally comes with age.
- Reduce your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine and lung cancer.
Experts say these benefits apply regardless of ability or skill level and staying active can be even more critical for people with disabilities. Adaptive sports — activities modified for people with disabilities — provide improved physical and mental well-being, as well as increased independence, purpose and social interaction.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Recent studies indicate that disabled veterans who participate in adaptive sports report benefits such as: Less stress, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication, fewer secondary medical conditions, higher achievement in education and employment, and more independence.”
Paralyzed Veterans of America, a service organization that advocates for veterans who have experienced a spinal cord injury or disease such as MS or ALS, says adaptive sports are often game changers for their members, helping them through rehabilitation and improving their quality of life.
PVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs co-present the largest annual multi-sport wheelchair event in the world, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Wheelchair Games and more than 600 athletes will compete in 19 sporting events over six days in Louisville, Kentucky.
All participating athletes are U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries, MS, ALS, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. Kenneth Lee, M.D., director of the Milwaukee VA Spinal Cord Injury Center and a combat-injured Army veteran, is the medical director of the Wheelchair Games. Lee says adaptive bike riding was key to his own difficult recovery after being injured in Iraq in 2004. It took him years to overcome the effects of an open head wound and shrapnel injuries to his legs.
Lee explains that sports tap into the natural competitive spirit and speed healing, physically and mentally. “Participating in adaptive sports gives patients a feeling of inclusion. They compete in new ways and you can see their confidence come to life,” he says. “When athletes go to the Wheelchair Games, they go home different, feeling like they can work through other barriers in their everyday lives,” he adds.
Adaptive sports do not alter the sports that able-bodied athletes play but simply allow modifications to fit the needs of the athletes with disabilities. This ensures adapted athletes are playing and competing on par with able-bodied athletes.
Army veteran Jennifer Steele says, “Sports really made me feel alive again!” Steele, 38, served as a sergeant on a patriot missile crew for five months at the beginning of the Iraq War. During her service, she started having difficulty running and was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and given a medical discharge. It took years for her to work through the anger and depression that followed.
She still chokes up when she recalls the first time she played wheelchair softball. “It was like getting a part of myself back that I thought I had lost forever,” Steele says. This year, Steele is preparing to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games for the third time.
Paralyzed Veterans of America has year-round adaptive sporting events across the country for individuals with disabilities, including people with amputation, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and neurological disorders such as MS or ALS. Learn more at pva.org/sports.
The power of physical exercise can help us all overcome hardships and challenges to improve our lives. A few small changes to your daily habits to make exercise a part of your regular routine can bring all of these benefits into your life as well.
Up to 75 percent of Americans may be functioning in a chronic state of dehydration. This lack of hydration also leads to many other health issues. Every cell in your body needs water to function, but often people don’t realize they’re dehydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated.”
Most people learn that water exists in three forms – liquid, gas and solid. But there is a fourth form of water called “gel water” that’s the most hydrating. It’s found in plant cells and contains glucose and/or sodium, which helps your body absorb it in the small intestine. This is critical because the small intestine is where 95 percent of water is absorbed into your body.
Gel water can be found in high concentrations in fruits and vegetables like cucumber, celery, watermelon and cantaloupe. One great way to stay well-hydrated is to drink smoothies. Blend fruits and vegetables in a smoothie and add coconut water to provide electrolytes. Drink this hydration-booster every morning, along with 3.5 liters of fluid water throughout the day.
Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
Fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of water include:
Other foods that contain a high amount of water include:
- cottage cheese
- chicken breast
Consuming foods high in water will help prevent dehydration. However, food alone isn’t likely to provide an adequate amount of water to sustain you in the long term.
Here’s a final hydration boosting tip: Add a handful of ground chia seeds to your smoothie or beverage. Ground chia seeds absorb 30 times their weight in water and turn fluid water into gel water. They also slow the passage of water through your digestive tract, giving the body more time to absorb it.
Water is important to your overall health.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and around the world. Through WEAAD, we raise awareness about the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. As many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year and only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities. Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. WEAAD reminds us that, as in a just society, all of us have a critical role to play to focus attention on elder justice.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL), along with federal and aging partners, invite you to join them in Lifting up Voices for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019, a theme that is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront the lived experiences of older people around the globe. This year, we invite you to join us and other organizations and communities across the country in using the collection of special Lifting up Voices outreach and campaign tools (including an action guide with sample social media posts and graphics), incorporating the Lifting up Voices theme in your community.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) serves as a national resource center dedicated to engaging and empowering older people so that they may be an advocate for themselves and their communities. We recognize that it is up to all of us, as a community to ensure the right social structures are in place so people can remain connected to their communities and to society as a whole, reducing the likelihood of abuse. Through evidence based policies, initiatives, education and civic engagement, we can create a sturdy social structure that can support us as we grow older. First established by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) in 1988 as a national elder abuse resource center, the NCEA was granted a permanent home at AoA in the 1992 amendments made to Title II of the Older Americans Act.
To carry out its mission, the NCEA disseminates elder abuse information to professionals and the public, and provides technical assistance and training to states and to community-based organizations. The NCEA:
- Makes news and resources available on-line and an easy-to-use format;
- Collaborates on research;
- Provides training;
- Identifies and provides information about promising practices and interventions;
- Operates a listserve forum for professionals;
- Provides subject matter expertise on program development.
Please check out the just released Walking Clubs Toolkit from Go4Life which provides tips and techniques to help start and sustain a walking club for adults 50+. Walking is a wonderful way for older adults to be physically active! It’s easy, it’s free, it’s relatively risk-free, and it doesn’t require costly equipment, a gym membership, or training. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people than ever are walking for physical activity. Walking is the most popular aerobic activity.
Walking is great exercise and when done briskly over time, it can build endurance—helping older adults walk farther, faster, or uphill. It also may make everyday activities such as gardening, shopping, or playing a sport easier. The goal is to achieve at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance activity on most, if not all, days of the week.
Benefits of Walking Clubs
By starting a walking club, you are offering numerous benefits to older adults.
- Health Benefits! When done regularly, walking at a brisk pace may offer these benefits:
- lower the risk of high blood pressure
- strengthen bones and muscles
- burn more calories
- lift moods
- Accountability! Membership in a walking club may motivate older adults to stick with this form of exercise because they know others are counting on their participation.
- Social connections! The social connections made in walking clubs can also offer older people a sense of wellbeing, emotional mental health, and a way to avoid a decline in overall health that can come with loneliness and depression (PDF, 2.6MB).
- Safety in numbers! A walking club may also provide a way to be active for older adults who are reluctant to walk alone.
This Go4Life Walking Clubs Toolkit provides tips for those interested in starting and sustaining a walking club for older adults. The recommendations presented here were obtained from a variety of trusted sources at the National Institutes of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Surgeon General, and our national and local Go4Life partners with expertise in developing and conducting walking clubs. A list of these resources may be found under the “Helpful Resources” section of this toolkit.
The toolkit incorporates the ideas and suggestions of partners who volunteered for the Go4Life Walking Clubs mini-project last fall, and it’s a wonderful example of partner collaboration and input!
The following Go4Life partners provided input into the development of this toolkit.
Please consider using the toolkit as a guide to start a walking club in your community. In fact, starting a club might be a great way to mark Go4Life Month in September.