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Older Americans Month: May 2021

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Every year in the month of May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month.

This year in 2021 – the observation is even more significant because of the current pandemic we are all embroiled in.  Unfortunately, the Coronavirus has affected our older population more than any other demographic so far. This means that honoring and treasuring our older Americans this month is especially important.

Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.

30 Ways To Celebrate Older Americans Month

  • Pack a few snacks or a meal, get in the car and head for a park or a drive out in the country.
  • Pick a favorite childhood food item that your mother made for you and ask her to teach you how to make it. Could be her lasagna, her chocolate chip cookies, anything!
  • Get a few DVD’s of your father’s favorite actor and spend an afternoon watching them. Don’t forget the snacks!
  • Start a new tradition and have a “game night” once a month with your older relatives.
  • Create your own family book club.
  • Visit an outdoor restaurant or coffee shop, someplace new that you haven’t been to before.
  • Spend some time helping your older parents to organize their boxes of photos.
  • Start a butterfly / hummingbird garden.
  • If the older adults in your family or circle of friends aren’t yet using Youtube – show them all the wonderful things that they can discover. Walking tours, museum tours and more.
  • Discover new music that they may enjoy.
  • Use Google Maps to visit their old neighborhoods or their home town.
  • If you aren’t yet using Amazon’s Echo Show – get it and get one for your older parents too! You and they will love all the great things it can do to make life easier and safer.
  • Walking is important for everyone but especially for seniors. Get the older adults in your life to start this daily habit by doing it with them as much as you can. Maybe a Fitbit would be a good idea too!
  • Afternoon tea time is a tradition in England that continues to this day. It’s a lovely way to spend some time with someone so think about introducing it into your daily routine.
  • Any time spent with someone while doing a hobby or arts and crafts project is time well spent. Some of the most important lessons in our lives are learned while working together on these kinds of tasks.
  • Puzzles can be a wonderful way to spend quality time together.
  • If your older parents haven’t yet written their stories – you may want to work with them on that project. It’s a great way to learn things about your parents you may not know.
  • But if they aren’t into writing down their stories – you may want to consider “interviewing” them and videotaping it. It’s a wonderful legacy to have and again, a great way to learn things about your parents that you probably never knew.
  • Host a 1950’s party with food, music and games from that era. Don’t forget to dress the part.
  • Introduce your parents to Yoga or Chair Yoga (if they aren’t already doing it).
  • Work on putting together your family’s history through Ancestry.com and other online sources. This book on advanced Geneology Research Techniques may help too.
  • If travel is out of the question this year due to Covid then take a virtual vacation using any of the Virtual Reality headsets available.
  • Wii games are still a great activity for everyone in the family but especially for seniors because the controls are easy to use and the games can be very engaging.
  • If an older adult in your circle of friends and family loves pets then spend some time with them at a pet shelter or help them to foster a loving pet.
  • Give your elderly relatives the gift of your time by spending one day a month being a “handyman” at their home. Or, take that time to help them clean out those closets, drawers, the garage, etc.
  • Put together a family cookbook of the family’s favorite recipes.
  • If you’re not too computer savvy – consider hiring a patient teenager or college student who can show you how to use Zoom, Gmail, Youtube, Google, Instacart or any other program that you and your senior loved ones may use and enjoy.
  • Music can fill your soul! If your aging parents enjoy playing a musical instrument, consider joining them for a “jam session” or if they just enjoy good music – spend some time every now and then just listening to their favorite artists.
  • Laughter is an amazing medicine (I know it is for me) so gather DVD’s, television shows, Youtube videos, old time radio shows of comedians, funny movies and shows, etc.
  • Celebrate the crazy, weird holiday of the day! There usually are multiple non-traditional holidays every single day. Here’s just a sampling of some of them.

30 Safety Tips For Older Americans

  • We always recommend to remove rugs throughout the house – it’s simply TOO easy to trip over them. BUT – if you absolutely insist on having rugs in your house please make sure that they all have anti-slip pads underneath them.
  • Spend an afternoon with your favorite senior citizen doing something they enjoy doing. It could be as simple as going to the park, visiting a museum, watching a movie or just hanging out on the front porch with a glass of lemonade.
  • Take advantage of all the amazing tools and adaptive equipment available today to make your life easier and safer.
  • Grab bars are a great piece of adaptive equipment but don’t think that they are just for the bathroom. They can work in any room of the house.
  • Using the right pieces of adaptive equipment can not only make life easier but safer for anyone, no matter what age they are.
  • Be smart and avoid stepping on wet or damp surfaces. If a spill occurs – make sure to clean it up immediately.
  • Falls are one of the most prevalent reasons that seniors are hospitalized. Be vigilant in preventing falls by wearing anti slip footwear, installing anti slip flooring or adding anti slip products to your floors. And don’t forget to use grab bars and hand rails as needed.
  • Clutter is another reason many elderly homeowners fall. Clean out your house of all the things you do not need. Keep one sentimental item instead of 100. Gift items to your friends and family or donate them.
  • Make sure your fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working and make sure you have an easy to use fire extinguisher that is easy to get to. In fact, have a few of them throughout the house.
  • Have your dryer vents cleaned out at least once a year (ideally it should be done every 3 months) There are 2,900 fires every year in the USA caused by dryer vents due to lack of being cleaned out.
  • If you insist on using a portable heater, make sure that there is at least 3 feet of cleared space around the heater. But generally, it’s not recommended to use a portable heater.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and pantry on a regular basis. Do not keep expired food in the house and never eat anything that is past it’s expiration date.
  • If you are on a special diet – avoid having food that is not on your diet in the house. Temptations can get the best of us.
  • Never respond to a link in an email – even if it seems to come from a legitimate source. Instead, go to Google and go directly to your account associated with the company that is sending you the email. If you do not have an account with that company – then it’s most likely a scam.
  • Do not leave the kitchen while you are cooking – it’s always best to stay in the kitchen just in case a pot boils over or grease spills out from a pan, etc.
  • If you have a gas stove, consider installing a gas safety device that can automatically turn the stove off in case you forget and leave it on.
  • Make sure to keep all electrical cords and extension wires safely tucked away to avoid tripping over them.
  • Get rid of junk mail as soon as it comes in. A shredder is a great tool to have in the home for this.
  • With so many telemarketers today targeting seniors – it’s important to be vigilant. If you pick up the phone and it’s not someone you know and you suspect it’s a telemarketer – hang up right away.
  • If you enjoy using candles – make sure they are in a place where they won’t be tipped over. Also, set up a timer to remind you to blow them out (just in case you forget and go to bed!).
  • Have a fire escape plan in place and practice it at least once a year. It’s important to know what to do just in case a fire does break out.
  • Keep any areas in the yard of your home clear of debris to avoid tripping and falling.
  • Nightlights throughout the house are extremely useful. Especially nightlights that automatically turn on when the room gets dark.
  • Replace standard towel racks with more secure grab bars just in case your senior loved one grabs on to it to help prevent a fall.
  • Shower chairs and benches are great but some seniors may prefer to use a three-in-one commode because it has side arms and back support.
  • Setting the water heater to 120 degree Fahrenheit will help to prevent the water from getting too hot for delicate older skin.
  • Lift chairs and lift recliners are perfect for any elderly person who may have a difficult time getting up from a seated position.
  • Low pile carpeting is the best type of carpets for seniors and the best to use if someone is using a cane or walker.
  • Stair treads are easy to install on wooden staircases and can prevent a slip and fall at very little cost.
  • Use the many volunteer organizations available that provide help for anyone who is unable to care for their pet. Do all you can to help your senior loved one keep their pet.
  • Falls are one of the top concerns for most older adults. A good majority of them can be prevented if you take the right steps to declutter your environment, make your flooring as non slip as possible, avoid using rugs, keep your living environment organized and use the right tools such as canes, stair treads, etc.

We hope that you can take some time out of your busy schedule to spend a few moments with the older adults in your life. And not just for this month but for every month of the year.

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