Healthy aging requires knowledge and skills

Contact ReporterHoward County Times

"Let the adventure begin" is the 2014 theme for Active Aging Week, set by the International Council on Active Aging for Sept. 21 through 27.

This year the ICAA is highlighting foot health, walking including walking groups, falls prevention, bone health, intergenerational programs and celebration at the end of the week.

As we grow older, foot pain and problems can impact our mobility and overall functioning. Seniors with diabetes, arthritis or who are overweight need to maintain healthy feet.

The fall statistics provided by the ICAA, icaa.cc/aaw.htm, are pretty grim. One in three people over age 65 will fall this year. Approximately half of the individuals age 65-plus who have fallen will fall again in the next 12 months. Strength and balance training programs could reduce the number of falls by 40 percent. We need to learn the steps necessary to prevent falls.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists provide guidelines for screening women for osteoporosis, recommending that all women ages 65 and older be routinely screened for osteoporosis.

"White women are used as the benchmark because they have a markedly higher rate of osteoporosis and fractures than other ethnic groups." Women must maintain adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, limit intake of alcohol and caffeine, maintain an active lifestyle including weight bearing exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and not smoking.

Getting grandparents and grandchildren together to share their skills and talents sounds like fun.  Some of the suggestions by the ICAA are forming an intergenerational book club to read and discuss books together; group exercise; a scavenger hunt, using a list of small things to look for on a walk; and PC Pals, computer classes where grandchildren can help their grandparents learn basic computer skills.

For Active Aging Week, the Bain Center is offering free exercise classes to new students. You can see how center members stay in shape. Sample any of the following classes: zumba, qigong, pilates, chair yoga, beginner soul line dancing and gentle yoga. Space is limited. Sign up in the lobby.

North Laurel 50+ Center highlights National Fall Prevention Day, Tuesday, Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. to noon. Stop by the lobby for tips on preventing falls in order to maintain your health and independence. North Laurel 50+ is also celebrating Active Aging Week with Bluegrass and BBQ, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Famous Dave's barbecue lunch and traditional bluegrass music by the Savage Bluegrass Band. Tickets are $8 for lunch and concert.

For Fall Prevention Day, the Bain Center is holding an awareness session for older adults, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 11 a.m.-noon, to learn how to reduce fall risks to enable seniors to stay independent as long as possible. Jennifer Lee of the Howard County Office on Aging will lead a discussion and demonstrate exercise to help improve balance. RSVP at the center.

The Glenwood 50+ Center has a host of activities for Active Aging Week — Administering Estates in Maryland, Sept. 22; Pet Food Collection, Sept. 22-26; Hands-On Howard County History Series, Smoothie Bar, Are You Prepared? (emergencies), and Sip & Swap, Sept. 23; Health and Wellness Expo, Waffle Bar, Flu Shots, Charm City Run and HCC Presents: Independence 1774-76, Sept. 24; The Art of Aging, Sept. 25; Drumming Circle and Crab Cake Luncheon with Rex Allen, Sept. 26. To view details on these activities in the Glenwood 50+ Center's current newsletter, go to howardcountymd.gov/displayprimary.aspx?id=6442461606.

The Lutheran Village at Miller's Grant, a planned not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Ellicott City, is celebrating Active Aging Week with Conductorcise, Thursday, Sept. 25, at 1:30 p.m. at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, at 304 Chatham Road, in Ellicott City. With Maestro David Dworkin, the founder of Conductorcise, at the lead, Howard County seniors train as an orchestra conductor.  Seniors with batons in hand will dance and jump to the rhythms of Beethoven, Strauss and Bernstein. In addition to the upper body workout to strengthen the heart, participants will master basic conducting techniques, improve listening skills and learn about the lives and work of great composers.

September is also National Senior Center Month.  I urge you to extend a special thank you to your senior center's staff members this month. 

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