Since 1963, the month of May has been recognized as Older American Month. It is a time to acknowledge the contributions, both big and small, of older Americans (60 years old and above) to their communities. The population of older Americans is rapidly growing:
In 1963, 17 million Americans were 65 or older.
In 2016, 46 million Americans were 65 or older, about 15% of the US population.
In 2030, it is estimated that 74 million Americans will be 65 or older.
The expectation is that by 2060, 24% (98 million) of the US population will be 65 or older.
The needs and desires of older Americans are:
Independence and self advocacy
Health-span (health and wellness/quality of life throughout one’s life)
Community engagement and social connectedness
Living a healthy lifestyle remains the best solution for reaching one’s goals and desires as an older American. Hurdles like obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, musculoskeletal pain, falling and injuring oneself, and depression, are best mitigated by diet, exercise, and strong social networks. Lifestyle habits can truly curb the challenges facing older Americans today. Consider the following:
Obesity is on the rise among older Americans and stood at 40% in 2012.
Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disease, and the leading cause of dementia.
Every minute of everyday, someone 65 years or older falls in the United States.
Falls are NOT a normal part of aging, and can be prevented!
Falls lead to loss of independence and sometimes even death.
Musculoskeletal pain, depression and lack of purpose are all impediments to staying active for older Americans.
The theme of 2018’s Older American Month is “Engage at Every Age”. It’s geared towards participating in activities which improve physical, mental, and social well-being. Here are some suggestions:
Become a mentor or volunteer to stay engaged in the community locally or nationally. In some instances, you can even volunteer from home via the internet. Here’s a website with a list of volunteer groups:
Create a diet and exercise plan. Having a diet plan will help curb poor eating habits. 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week is the recommendation. However, even starting with 15 minutes of exercise for 5 days a week, has been shown to improve health in those 60 years of age or older (Hupin et. al 2015). Here’s a resource from the NIH to get started:
Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States – Population Reference Bureau. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.prb.org/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet/
Go4Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/
Gschwind, Y. J., Kressig, R. W., Lacroix, A., Muehlbauer, T., Pfenninger, B., & Granacher, U. (2013). A best practice fall prevention exercise program to improve balance, strength / power, and psychosocial health in older adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatrics, 13(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-105
Home Page | ACL Administration for Community Living. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.acl.gov/
Hupin, D., Roche, F., Gremeaux, V., Chatard, J., Oriol, M., Gaspoz, J., … Edouard, P. (2015). Even a low-dose of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces mortality by 22% in adults aged ≥60 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(19), 1262-1267. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094306
Keep Older Adults Safe. (2018, May 1). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-adult-safety/index.html
Older Americans Month 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://oam.acl.gov/
Older Americans Month 2018: Engage at Every Age | Open Space | National Recreation and Park Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nrpa.org/blog/older-americans-month-2018-engage-at-every-age/
Older Americans Month, History. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://oam.acl.gov/history.html
Volunteer Work For Seniors. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.retiredbrains.com/volunteer.html