Poor Health is Not an Inevitable Consequence of Aging

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We, as a society, should always be committed to providing dignified care and companionship to enrich the lives of the elderly adults in our communities. The month of May is a time when many government and community-based organizations that serve older adults, celebrate Older Americans Month.

This year’s theme, Living Today for a Better Tomorrow,reflects the Administration on Aging’s continued focus on prevention efforts and programs throughout the country that aim to help older adults maintain their health as they age and avoid the risks of chronic disease, disability and injury. As we celebrate aging, we also recognize the need to bring awareness to the issues that affect older adults and create community-wide opportunities to help older Americans improve their quality of life. An overwhelming majority of older adults (over 85%) would prefer to receive care in their homes rather than move to a senior care facility.

Although the risk of disease increases with age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging. People of all ages, not just the seniors, should be encouraged to pursue healthy habits and wellness measures in order to enhance their quality of life. Knowing that companionship, diet and exercise play a vital role in wellness, elderly people should pursue care arrangements that address their needs.

· Companionship helps people stay engaged and mentally stimulated. Having someone to talk with is key to avoiding loneliness and reducing the risk of depression. Also, the more isolated elderly adults become, the more vulnerable they are to poor health, self-neglect and safety risks.

· A nutritious diet is vital to maintaining good health. As people age, preparing meals can become a challenge because of reduced energy or a health concern, such as arthritis. Also, because of sensory changes, specifically smell and taste, the foods that are the most appetizing are not always the best for us.

· Exercise is also key for health and wellness. As people age, many older adults tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle. While many seniors face functional limitations, involvement and encouragement can help them enjoy life and maintain a desired level of activity.

Knowing the value and benefits of companionship, diet and exercise, seniors should be encouraged to venture out of the house to enjoy the smells and sounds of our seasons. Meeting friends or family for lunch or even going to the grocery store can do wonders for a person. It is important to connect to community resources, pursue healthy behaviors, and engage support services one may need to maximize their independence and quality of life.

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