Older Americans Month - safe today, healthy tomorrow

“It's not how old you are, it's how you are old.”— Jules Renard

Older adults make Sheboygan County abetterplace to live with countless contributions of expertise, time and energy.

Since a declaration by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, May has been designated as the month to acknowledge those contributions and to pay tribute and celebrate older Americans.

Each May this celebration not only recognizes older adults for their contributions but also demonstrates our nation’s commitment to helping older adults stay healthy and active. The 2014 Older Americans Month theme exemplifies this goal; “Safe today. Healthy tomorrow.”

Here are some safety tips recommended by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) as part of the 2014 theme:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider: Discuss physical activities that are appropriate for you. Regular exercise helps to improve endurance, strength, balance and coordination.
  • Manage medications: Be aware of how your medications interact with other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, certain foods, alcohol, and other medical conditions
  • Learn how medications may make you unsteady on your feet or impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Ask your pharmacist for help. Large-print labels, medication-tracking devices and easy-open containers may be available.
  • Prevent falls: Install handrails and grab bars wherever they are helpful
  • Ensure there is ample lighting inside and outside of your home. Choose shoes with non-slip soles that provide support without bulk that could cause you to trip. Use a walking aid, if needed to improve balance and stability.
  • Prevent fires and burns: Set your water heater to 120 degrees. You can also install anti-scald devices on sinks, tubs and showers. Test smoke detectors regularly. Be sure you have a smoke alarm very near your cooking area and in all bedrooms.
  • Drive wisely: Plan ahead and use routes that are well-lit, familiar and offer easy parking. Daytime driving in good weather conditions is best. Wear your seat belt, even during short trips. Eliminate distractions and stay focused on the road. Know when it might be time to limit or stop driving, and learn how to get around town without driving.

Physical health is tied to mental health. By taking care of safety issues and our physical health, we can also positively impact our mental health and well-being. If you are an older adult, make a commitment to care for yourself so that you can remain active and independent as well as happy and fulfilled for as long as possible.

Call Mental Health America at 920-458-3951 or the Aging & Disability Resource Center at 920-467-4100 to find out about resources for older adults. Happy Older Americans Month!

—Submitted by Kathleen Manny, community services specialist for the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Sheboygan County and member of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health Committee.