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Older Americans Month focuses on injury prevention

United States Census BureauJimmy CarterU.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesJohn F. Kennedy

Seniors often remark how fast time flies as they get older. I certainly identify with that. It seems like I just wrote about Older Americans Month and here it is again. 

Older Americans Month is now a tradition in the United States. The idea was first established after a meeting President John F. Kennedy had with the National Council of Senior Citizens. His meeting was a prelude to designating May as Senior Citizen's Month. President Jimmy Carter changed the designation to Older Americans Month in 1980. 

Celebrated nationwide each year in May, Older Americans Month this year focuses on injury prevention, with the theme, "Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow." It is also a time to recognize older adults for their contributions and the important role they play in our communities.

Celebrations this month take the form of ceremonies; fairs; talks; safety days; fire safety presentations; workshops or demonstrations on safe driving for older adults; and workshops discussing various types of elder abuse, all providing information to help adults, age 65 and older, stay healthy and active.

Organized each year by the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the key goal this year is to raise awareness about the critical issue of unintentional injury among older adults. Older adults are at a much higher risk of unintentional injury, and even death, than the rest of the population. Each year, unintentional injuries in the older population result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths. Some of the leading causes of injuries to older adults are falls, fires, motor vehicle incidents, consumer product-related incidents, elder abuse, suffocations and improper use of medicines. For a wealth of resources on these topics, go to aci.gov and check the Activity Guide for 2014.

If older Americans take control of their safety, they can live longer, healthier lives. Speaking of longer lives, some U.S. Census Bureau facts give us a view into the future as to the growth of the older adult population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates, "The number of people who were 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2012 was 43.1 million. This group accounted for 13.7 percent of the total population. The projected population of people 65 and older in 2060 is 92 million. People in this age group would comprise just over one in five U.S. residents at that time. Of this number, 18.2 million would be 85 or older. The projected number of baby boomers in 2060 is 2.4 million. At that time, the youngest baby boomer would be 96 years old. 2056 is the year in which, for the first time, the population of 65 and older would outnumber people younger than 18 in the United States."

The Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, along with other Prince George's County senior centers, is celebrating this special month at a Senior Health and Fitness Day, Wednesday, May 21 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex, 8001 Sheriff Road, in Hyattsville. Take advantage of health screenings, exhibitors and a variety of fitness programs, such as swimming, line dancing, Zumba Gold, tai chi and chair exercises. Transportation is on your own.

To celebrate the contributions and achievements of its members, the North Laurel 50+ Center will host a Fish Fry and Blues event Wednesday, May 21. There will be live music at 11 a.m., followed by a catered, fried on the premises luncheon at noon. A contribution for lunch is requested. Tickets are available at the center's front desk.

One of the risk factors for falls is the lack of exercise. Why not consider joining Club 300, Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission's summer senior walking program. The program will "virtually" take you from Ocean City to Cumberland, and you can earn rewards along the way. Three hundred represents the mileage from Ocean City to Cumberland. Any Prince George's County senior, age 60 and better, or pre-senior, age 50 to 59, of any fitness level, is welcome to join Club 300. Registration has begun, with walking officially starting at Senior Health and Fitness Day, Wed, May 21 and concluding Friday, Sept. 19. Once registered, you can walk anywhere, any time, with anyone you choose. Register at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, 7120 Contee Road or online, pgparks.com/Club300.htm..

This is the month to reinvigorate your resolve and to reinstate those health and fitness New Year's resolutions, which you haven't kept. Get out and take advantage of the opportunities that Older Americans Month offers and continue those activities to ensure your safe and healthy future.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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