Compared to 1963, the way Americans are aging has changed dramatically. We live longer, we work longer, and there are more options for retirement and aging in place that did not exist fifty years ago. However, living and working longer creates greater health and financial concerns for many senior citizens and their families.
We’ve taken a bit of inspiration from the Association of Community Living and the Administration on Aging, which organize a national theme every year for Older Americans Month in May. The theme for 2017 was Age Out Loud. Not only does this year’s theme aim to encourage discussion of vital issues seniors face today, but it also encourages older Americans to be active in their homes and communities. How do you Age Out Loud?
Volunteering is a great way for older Americans to remain involved in their communities and to also maintain a healthy activity level outside the home. Many volunteer schedules are part-time and less than 10 hours a week, making it easy for seniors to avoid too much activity. Volunteering can also give a boost to emotional health and create a sense of connection, particularly for those seniors who have few family members or friends able to visit regularly.
Learn a New Skill
We are never too old to stop learning. Albert Einstein is believed to have said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Community centers and senior centers frequently offer classes for free or at a discount, such as cooking, art, languages, yoga, music, and more. Learning new skills keeps the mind agile and introduces seniors to new people.
Know Your Rights
It’s a subject that does not gain enough attention, but elder abuse and financial protections for older adults are important topics to know and understand. As we age, we tend to become more vulnerable to scam attempts, identity theft, financial theft or abuse, and more. Part of the theme of Age Out Loud is learning about and knowing your rights. The Administration on Aging provides a brief overview of what elder abuse is as well as tips to recognize the warning signs, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has compiled a number of tips to recognize and avoid mail or financial fraud. Some may even interpret the Age Out Loud theme literally and be more vocal about their wants, needs, and decisions regarding their care.
Age Your Way
Finally, Age Out Loud means aging your way. Do you want to retire or do you want to start a second career? Do you want to age in place or look into retirement communities? What health issues and decisions need to be made and what are your wishes? All of these questions and more have a direct impact on quality of life as we grow older. What does aging your way mean for you?
Older Americans Month: https://oam.acl.gov/index.html
Resources list for health, wellness, and more: https://oam.acl.gov/resources.html#health
[Featured image from the Older Americans Month official materials.]