Did you know that May is Older Americans Month?
Every May, the US Department of Health’s Administration for Community Living celebrates the observance of Older Americans Month. In May 2019, the theme is Connect, Create, Contribute, which encourages older adults and their communities to:
- Connect with friends, family, and community services. For example, try arranging a sit-down meal to celebrate Older Americans Month, and recognize community members for their accomplishments.
- Create by engaging in activities to promote learning, health, and personal enrichment. For example, try hosting a workshop for seniors on key issues like health or nutrition, and engage an older adult to lead the workshop.
- Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others. For example, try promoting the work of senior nutrition program volunteers and organizations that support older adults, and recognize their contributions at a public event or in the media.
When communities encourage the contributions of older adults, it can lead to a stronger and more vibrant community. The National Institute for Aging offers many ideas for how to create fun activities that promote health and personal enrichment.
Research tells us that older people with an active lifestyle:
- Are less likely to develop certain diseases. Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, such as dementia.
- Have a longer lifespan. One study showed that older adults who reported taking part in social activities or meaningful, productive activities lived longer than people who did not.
- Are happier and less depressed. Studies suggest that older adults who participate in what they believe are meaningful activities, like volunteering in their communities, say they feel happier and healthier.
- Are better prepared to cope with loss. Studies suggest that volunteering can help with stress and depression from the death of a spouse. Among people who experienced a loss, those who took part in volunteer activities felt more positive about their own abilities.
- May be able to improve their thinking abilities. Other research is exploring how participating in creative arts might help people age well. Studies have shown that older adults’ memory, comprehension, creativity, and problem-solving abilities improved after an intensive, 4-week acting course.
Nutrition and healthy eating can make a difference in how we feel and encourage a sense of well-being. Eating healthy has multiple benefits that can help older adults, and daily eating habits change as bodies get older. Consider these small adjustments to help you enjoy your foods and beverages.
- Add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt.
- Add sliced fruits and vegetable to your meals and snacks.
- Drink 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
For additional ideas on healthy living, visit the National Institute on Aging website at https://www.nia.nih.gov//health/participating-activities-you-enjoy