More than 92 million Americans have already voted in this election, a massive number that by the time you read this may already be out of date. Early voting numbers indicate the turnout in 2020 could be the highest in a century, at around 65 percent of the eligible voter population, or about 150 million voters. These proudly impressive numbers have further brought to light that our election system and particularly our voting procedures are somewhat archaic compared to other established democracies, in as far as Americans having to stand in lines for 12 hours to cast a vote in person. Remember, Your VOTE is Your Voice!
As a Democracy, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the sad truth is that America has very low rates of participation in our democracy. Only 55.7% of Americans voted in the last presidential election. This is not normal or healthy for advanced democracies. The fact that our Senators, Representatives, and even Presidents are selected by a small portion of the population goes against our democratic ideals.
In the early days of the United States voting was usually limited to free white men who owned property and met certain religious qualifications. Eventually the right to vote became more widespread. By 1860 almost every state allowed all white men over 21 to vote. After the Civil War the 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave the vote to men of all races. In practice, however, most black people in the South did not gain the right to vote until the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women, after a long political struggle, won the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The right to vote has been further extended in recent decades. In 1971 the 26th Amendment to the Constitution gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. More recently, federal law has guaranteed the vote to people with disabilities and to those whose first language is not English.
Today some say that our election system and voting procedures are somewhat archaic compared to other established democracies, in as far as Americans having to stand in lines for 12 hours to simply cast a vote in person. Many Americans believe we can do a lot better in our election management. We are a young democracy and still learning. So for today…
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocacting for handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. “Hand Hygiene for All” is the theme of this year’s Global Handwashing Day, following a recent World Health Organization initiative calling for improved hand hygiene. Global Handwashing Day was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and their communities through handwashing with soap. Though it requires few resources—soap and a small amount of water—the benefits are significant. Handwashing with soap helps prevent the spread of infections including influenza and Ebola.
Keeping our hands clean is one of the simplest and most important habits we can adopt to prevent contracting Covid-19 and spreading the coronavirus that causes the disease to others. Without washing properly and killing off the coronavirus — and other viruses, bacteria and germs we pick up from raw meats, fecal matter and respiratory droplets — it can spread between people and cause disease.
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After handling pet food or pet treats
After touching garbage
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these five steps every time.
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Worried about dry hands? After washing your hands, simply pat them dry with a clean towel but leave them slightly damp “to lock in the moisture” from ointments and creams that you’ll work into your skin, fingertips and nails.\
The economics of aging-in-place home modifications are compelling, especially in comparison to the cost and trauma of a single fall for an older adult. Aging in place not only offers seniors an improved quality of life, it is fiscally sound as well, saving Americans billions in avoided costs. Empowering individuals to live at home rather than in institutional settings will yield a significant cost savings to Medicaid—and to taxpayers.
It is not just our fiscal responsibility, but our moral responsibility to ensure every American, no matter their age or ability, has the opportunity to live out their later years however they wish—and with the support and dignity they deserve.
Simple home modifications can provide the stability needed to age confidently at home.
Today, many active seniors find it is far more cost-efficient to make home improvements to accommodate the effects of aging rather than seek out a facility that meets all their unique needs.
According to NAHB, moving to a typical assisted living facility can cost upwards of $60,000 per year each year while the cost to widen a bathroom door, put in safety bars and a roll-in shower should typically cost closer to the vicinity of $8,000 — which is a one-time expense instead of a yearly drain on a homeowner’s finances.
Aging-in-place remodeling projects that saw the largest increases over the past five years were additional lighting (also known as “task lighting”), showers without curbs, bathtub grab bars, non-slip floors and widened doorways. The most popular exterior improvements include ramps or “zero step” entrances, package shelves near front doors, handrails installed at existing steps and porch or front door sidelights.
As we go into September, National Falls Prevention Month, we are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic across the US and the world. We have been sheltering in place by mandate or choice. Yet, the risks of falling do not decrease with fewer outings! And the challenges of caregiving have grown as personal visits have not been possible for many families. So there are different ways to approach the risks of falling and possible solutions but, most importantly, we need to have the conversations about falls. Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 21-25, 2020, is designed to spread this important public health message.
Falls are a leading cause of lost independence and mobility; often leaving seniors unable to fully recover from the trauma. Their overall health declines, and care needs increase significantly. People aged 65 and older have a 25% greater chance of falling. And if someone has fallen once, their chances of falling again doubles. It seems like common sense — everybody falls, no matter what age. However, for many older adults, an unexpected fall can result in a serious and costly injury. The good news is that most falls can be prevented. If you are the caregiver, you have the power to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling, and your own fall risk as well.
The National Council on Aging in partnership with the National Alliance for Caregiving has prepared a Conversation Guide to help caregivers and family members discuss the importance of fall risk reduction. Taking the action and beginning the conversation is the first step. It is not easy to tell a family member or friend that you are concerned about their safety or chances of falling. So, the use of supportive language is a great place to start, perhaps with an offer to follow-up on a wellness appointment so the discussion of fall risks can be part of an overall conversation. As with all conversations, positive tone and body language is vital.
Remember, this conversation may have to happen more than once to gather the full view of the risks and encourage participation. In addition to wellness checks for medication management concerns, the annual eye exam can be crucial. Subtle changes in vision can reduce depth perception, making even stepping out of the house or off a curb more dangerous. If your family member wears transition lenses which change with the ambient light, one strategy may be to simply stop and wait for the time to allow the lenses and, therefore, the vision to adjust before walking further. Extra lighting along outdoor pathways and interior hallways can reduce the chance of not seeing the tripping hazard that may be present.
Doing an evaluation of the home for safety hazards can be done, even with social distancing! As the caregiver, if you look for the tripping hazards or the ways to make every day activities easier; such as a handheld shower or grab bars, it’s a start and part of the safety conversation. The safety of your loved one reduces your stress and worry as the caregiver. You can reach out for a professional to assist you in a comprehensive home safety assessment as well, if you are not near your loved one.
Age Safe® America develops training programs and certifications to empower senior services providers to better help decrease falls and fall-related injuries.
The second week of September each year marks the celebration of National Kinesiotherapy Week. Age Safe® America and its members proudly join the American Kinesiotherapy Association (AKTA) to salute the professionals who provide these services and to call attention to the rehabilitative and fitness needs of the community.
A Kinesiotherapist is a registered allied health professional trained in the use of scientifically based exercise principles to enhance physical and functional capabilities of an individual. Kinesiotherapists are specialists in movement science that develop, monitor and modify exercise routines for individuals to regain strength and function after an injury, illness or prolonged inactivity. Their expertise can encompass a variety of mobility skills other than exercise, such as but not limited to ambulation, driver training, and prosthetic and/or orthotic rehabilitation. It enables military veterans and private citizens who have been seriously injured or suffer from chronic conditions to live healthy, vibrant lives.
Kinesiotherapy (formerly Corrective Therapy) has been an integral part of the Veteran’s Administration’s Rehabilitation Medicine Service since 1941, this rehabilitation discipline was created during WWII to return active duty soldiers to the front lines as quickly and effectively as possible.
Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the single largest employer of Kinesiotherapists providing services to Veterans and Servicemembers through a holistic approach to overall patient care emphasizing psychological as well as physical benefits of therapeutic exercise and education within the acute and post-acute rehabilitation process. Over 80% of registered Kinesiotherapist work in VA facilities around the country.
Kinesiotherapists apply specialty training and certifications in their evidence-based practice across the continuum of care for Veterans with a wide spectrum of neurologic, orthopedic, mental health, surgical, and medical conditions, including special populations such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI), amputation, homeless, and geriatric patients.
Adults aged 65 and over are the largest and fastest growing age group in our society. Historically, older members of our society were valued for their vast knowledge and contributions to society. Unfortunately, older adulthood is not universally celebrated and valued here in the US. Ageism (negative attitudes and behavior toward older adults) continues to be a serious national problem. Senior Citizens Day was created as a day to support, honor, and show appreciation to our seniors and to recognize their achievements. President Reagan established this day in 1988 and the Proclamation is still relevant today.
“Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today, and gives us ample reason this year to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land.
With improved health care and more years of productivity, older citizens are reinforcing their historical roles as leaders and as links with our patrimony and sense of purpose as individuals and as a Nation. Many older people are embarking on second careers, giving younger Americans a fine example of responsibility, resourcefulness, competence, and determination. And more than 4.5 million senior citizens are serving as volunteers in various programs and projects that benefit every sector of society. Wherever the need exists, older people are making their presence felt — for their own good and that of others.
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 — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”
In honor of this day, call your grandparents, mother, father, brother, sister, or old high school teacher; and tell them that you appreciate everything they have done for you. Today is also a great day to volunteer at a retirement home and visit someone who may not receive many visitors.