May is a month of fresh beginnings. Perennials bloom once again, blazing a trail of bright color. May is also when we celebrate Older American’s Month, acknowledging the perennial contributions of older adults to our nation. The theme of Older Americans Month 2016 is “Blaze a Trail.” Emphasizing the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.
Older adults are a growing and increasingly vital part of our country. By 2029, it is projected that more than 20% of Americans will be of retirement age. A large number of programs exist that make a significant difference in the lives of older adults. These include meals, job training, senior centers, caregiver support, transportation, health promotion, benefits enrollment, and more. Over the next decade, this kind of growth will significantly increase the demand for home and community based services like those offered through Meals on Wheels for WNY and Buffalo area agencies on aging.
Seniors who routinely eat nutritious food and drink adequate amounts of fluids are less likely to have complications from chronic disease and are less apt to require care in a hospital, nursing home, or other facility. Healthy lifestyle behaviors help older adults avoid the health and functional declines traditionally associated with aging.
BE WISE, BE WELL
•Get out and move – most senior and community centers offer free or low-cost options.
•Eat healthy nutritious meal – small things can lead to huge differences in the way you feel and the way your body works.
•Wellness is a matter of body and mind – eating healthy foods and staying active may reduce risks to your brain’s health.
•Learn new things and exercise your mind – try reading, playing games, taking a class, or simply being social.
Today, older Americans are living longer and are healthier than ever before. Retirement is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and find new inspiration in a second career, helping others, discovering new interests, and pursuing dreams. Reinventing yourself can be fun and rewarding. Reinventing yourself is good for your mental and physical well-being.
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, USE YOUR SKILLS
•Express yourself through the arts.
•Keep learning and growing.
•Consider using your years of experience to serve others – volunteering can lead to improved physical and mental health; older volunteers report greater life satisfaction than non-volunteers.
•A new career – careers after retirement can be rewarding, personally and financially.
Healthy living helps keep your mind active, provides greater physical health, gives you structure and routine, connects you to your community, and helps prevent isolation. Recognize that is it never too late to become more active and revamp your diet. Illness and aging do not go hand-in-hand. Add life to your years and stay motivated by picking goals that will bring you joy. No matter your age you can stay healthy, get involved, and be a trailblazer for older Americans.