Getting older doesn’t mean what it once did.
For many aging Americans, it is a phase of life where interests, goals, and dreams can get a new or second start.
Today, aging is about eliminating outdated perceptions and living the way that suits you best.
Since 1963, Older Americans Month (OAM) has been a time to celebrate older Americans, their stories, and their contributions.
This celebration of our senior loved ones is led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). The annual observance offers a special opportunity to learn about, support, and recognize our nation’s older citizens.
This year’s theme, “Age Out Loud,” emphasizes the ways older adults are living their lives with boldness, confidence, and passion while serving as an inspiration to people of all ages.
Is Your Senior Aging Out Loud?
Family caregivers of senior loved ones know that seniors aren’t the same now as they were in generations past.
They don’t want to sit on the porch and watch the world go by — they want to be the one going by to places unknown trying new things and staying both physically and mentally sharp.
Many seniors are doing things that their parents or grandparents wouldn’t have considered.
Age 65 is just the beginning, age 85 is mid-step, and 100 years old is a milestone more and more of our senior loved ones are achieving due to improved medical care and lifestyle changes.
Our seniors want life in their years, not just a few more years in their life.
What does it mean to ‘age out loud’?
The ACL describes a change in how today’s older adults are choosing to live. According to the ACL:
older Americans are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. They expect to continue to live their lives to the fullest, and they’re insisting on changes that make that possible.
- Working at an older age
- Coming out of retirement to try something new, even for a few days a week, as they pursue a second career
- Volunteering so they can feel fulfilled while giving back to the community
- Starting their own businesses
- Aging in place and staying healthy to avoid the need for facility care
- Adopting and enjoying the latest technology
Family caregivers are learning that their older adults are redefining aging — through work or family interests, by taking charge of their health, staying independent for as long as possible, and through their community and advocacy efforts.
Supporting Our Seniors as They Age Out Loud
Family caregivers can use this opportunity during Older Americans Month to learn how to best support their aging senior loved ones and help them live out loud too.
Encouraging seniors to remain as active physically and mentally as possible for as long as possible will help them (and us) age successfully!
Family caregivers can intervene with support, strategies, and education to help senior loved ones become healthier in a multitude of aspects of their life.
- Help access healthcare – Facilitating transportation to their health appointments, encouraging them to take part in all preventive health services, assisting with insurance questions, including selecting a prescription drug plan that is beneficial for them.
- Manage prescription drug administration – Assist our seniors with their medication administration by creating ways for them to be reminded of dosing, avoiding missed dosages, and regularly reviewing medication list to help prevent interactions.
- Encourage and join physical activity endeavors – Go with them on walks; set up opportunities for movement, including tai chi, yoga, dancing, exercising, water aerobics or other fun they like; and remind them about the benefits of movement to their physical and mental health. We can also advocate in our cities for “Build Environment Intervention Approaches,” which are approaches cities can create to increase physical activity or modify environmental characteristics in a community to make physical activity easier or more accessible.
- Support their rights -Help our seniors learn about their rights, including freedom from abuse, financial scams, and end of life decisions. Do they need an elder law attorney to help them execute personal documents including a will or a healthcare proxy or do they need a financial planner to help them budget for their future?
- Connect them to technology – Help them use the latest technology to stay connected with family members and friends, stay safe in their own home, and receive telehealth benefits to improve their healthcare.
- Reinforce healthy eating habits – It is never too late to make changes in the foods we eat to provide our bodies with the nutrition they need, especially our senior loved ones. Avoiding weak bones, muscle loss, and nutritional deficiency as we age will take some attention to be sure our seniors include foods that will nourish them. Caregivers can help seniors navigate the multitude of food choices.
- Introduce volunteer opportunities – Seniors want to give back to their communities and find a meaningful purpose to fill their days. Caregivers can help them find ways for them to give their gifts and experience back.
- Help them express themselves – Would your senior enjoy signing, painting, writing or storytelling? Provide them with the supplies they need, such as paints, paper, journals, recording devices and an audience so that they can engage through expression.
Supporting, encouraging and perhaps even a little cajoling can help our seniors live out loud, which can improve their quality of life.
Improving their wellness, engaging with their community, and finding meaning to their days will help our senior loved ones realize that…
Aging is a new stage of opportunity and strength ~~ Betty Friedan.