We have been advocates for some time about the need to stay physically active as we age. We feel strongly that it will benefit both family caregivers and seniors to be active each day in activities that you enjoy.
Therefore, we are happy to support the International Council on Active Aging’s (ICAA) celebration of Active Aging Week this week. The theme for this year is “Let the Adventure Begin.” By participating in Active Aging Week activities in our communities, or just in our own households, the ICAA wants to help seniors reignite their enjoyment of previous adventures or find new adventures with families and friends.
The purpose of this annual health promotion is to encourage all people, especially elders, to participate in a healthy and active lifestyle for an improved quality of life. We have seen the benefits, read the research and heard the health messages that show us all that staying active can help in many areas of our lives.
Physical activity keeps our bodies strong, stimulate our minds, maintain our balance, control our weight, help manage our chronic diseases, reduce social isolation leading to depression and even prevent falls.
All that and a chance to have some fun, too!
Active Aging Week Highlights
You and your senior may be able to find some special events being held in your communities as organizations across the country participate or sponsor an adventure!
Here are a few examples of senior events that you and your loved one can join.
- “All this week at the Fort Wayne Community Center, the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is offering free activities for people age 50 and over.”
- Across the country Silver Sneaker programs will be hosting events too.
- In Sunnyvale, California they will host a kick off walk, pickle ball and series of lectures for successful aging.
- Senior centers are presenting healthy eating classes with seniors some featuring healthy snacks and eating on the go.
- Yoga classes, walks and special exercises to improve balance will be held at senior centers this week (and every week!).
If you don’t have a senior center nearby or having trouble finding a designated activity in your community, you can always plan your own. There are a variety of activities that you, your senior loved one and family members can do together to create your own adventures.
- Take a nature walk. Look for birds or natural tidbits for crafts such as fallen pine cones or fall leaves.
- Look through your family photo album and reminisce about adventures your senior took as a child or young adult. Have them describe their feelings, the way the food tasted or smelled or funny things their relatives did to make them laugh.
- Read a book together. Have your senior read aloud to the grandchildren. Have the grandkids act out a book creating a ‘family theater night’.
- Listen to favorite music from your senior’s era. Have them tell stories about playing in the school band or singing in a choir. Sing together or play instruments again.
- Create a scavenger hunt for adults and children whether in the house, in the yard or at a local park. Look for items that are funny, colorful, and bring back memories.
- Use Skype or FaceTime to talk to far away family and see the great-grand kids again!
- Have fun in the kitchen making cookies, decorating a cake, or making a special meal then sharing it!
These are some fun family time ideas that you can do or you can create your own adventures!
National Fall Prevention Awareness Day in Aging Week
On Tuesday of Active Aging Week, we’re highlighting the potential for falls and injuries that can occur when seniors don’t remain active. Here are some shocking statistics that may help spur us into action to keep our seniors active to maintain strength, balance and prevent falls.
- Every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall
- Strength and balance training programs can reduce falls by 40%
- Half of those 65+ who have fallen will fall again within next 12 months
- About 1,800 falls in older adults result in death
- One fourth of older people who have a hip fracture from a fall die within six months of the injury
- 9,500 deaths in older adults each year are correlated with a fall
Because it’s such an important aspect of preventing falls, we put together this video to demonstrate some simple exercises to help build balance.
If your senior stays active, maintains strong muscles, eats a well-balanced diet, participates in balance exercises regularly and improves their overall mobility, it will help them maintain a higher quality of life and remain independent longer.
Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves and loved ones?
Adventures to Stay Active All Year Not Just One Week
There are a variety of physical activities in which seniors can participate that will not only improve their physical function but also increase their socialization and improve their mood! Who wouldn’t love to do some of these fun things instead of sitting home every day?
- Water aerobics
- Tai Chi
- Balance exercises
- Walk the dog
Regardless of the level of function you senior has, you can get them moving at something. There are wheelchair exercises, fitness clubs designed with seniors in mind, and exercises for seniors who use adaptive equipment like canes.
They can stay active mentally as well, with a variety of brain stimulating endeavors. Introduce them to some new technology, have them send some emails, play a video game or do a crossword puzzle using a tablet. Keep their e-reader or tablet full with interesting titles to keep their minds active.
Be sure they are not isolating themselves throughout the week while you are at work. Enroll them in a senior activity center or Silver Sneaker program near you.
The benefits to their quality of life, their enjoyment, and their functional status will be tremendous!
Try starting every day with “Let the Adventure Begin!”