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Older American Month's message: safety first [Senior Circles]

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, 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 each year.

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."

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the May newsletters for Howard County senior centers, which would list the Older American Month activities, have not been posted. Fortunately, I did receive a May/June newsletter from the Bain Center by email. 

Bain is offering "Spring Clean Your Diet," a special catered Lunch and Learn for Older Americans Month. The event will be held Thursday, May 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, in Columbia. Nutritionist Rona Martiyan recognizes that "You are what you eat" is true and will discuss the importance of adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Get your ticket at the front desk by May 6. Lunch donations will be accepted at the time of registration.

When your senior center's May newsletter becomes available, please check out the special activities offered to you for Older Americans Month and make a point to go to as many as you can.

 One of the risk factors for falls is the lack of exercise. Why not consider joining Cycle2Health Howard County, a non-competitive, peer-led, bicycling club for adults of all ages and riding abilities. Coordinated by the Health and Wellness Division of the Howard County Office on Aging, the club features weekday rides during daytime hours from locations around Howard County.  

The cycling season kicks off Thursday, May 8, at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the East Columbia 50+ Center, 6600 Cradlerock Way, in Columbia. To register, contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Lee, at 410-313-5940 or jlee@howardcountymd.gov. To register online, go to apm.activecommunities.com/howardcounty/Activity_Search/cycle2health/33404.

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 © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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