Every May offers an opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders during Older Americans Month. Older adults play vital, positive roles in our communities – as family members, friends, mentors, volunteers, civic leaders, members of the workforce and more. Just as every person is unique, so too is how they age and how they choose to do it – and there is no “right” way. That’s why this year’s theme for Older Americans Month (OAM) is “Age My Way.”
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads the celebration of OAM. This year’s theme focuses on how older adults can age in their communities, living independently for as long as possible and participating in ways they choose.
Older Americans Month focus on choices
While “Age My Way” will look different for each person, here are common things everyone can consider:
- Planning: Think about what you will need and want in the future, from home and community-based services to community activities that interest you.
- Engagement: Remain involved and contribute to your community through work, volunteer, and/or civic participation opportunities.
- Access: Make home improvements and modifications, use assistive technologies, and customize supports to help you better age in place.
- Connection: Maintain social activities and relationships to combat social isolation and stay connected to your community.
Most people over the age of 65 will be in long-term care at some point during their lives, but that does not diminish their ability to make a difference in their own lives as well as those of others. We should use this year’s OAM to focus on residents engaging with friends and family, and various activities here in our facility community.
Engaging helps health
Through activities inside and outside their facilities, older Americans in long-term care communities contribute to supporting their overall health through socialization. As we age or become ill, the ability to participate in everyday activities and hobbies may become difficult. Sometimes, it may be the loss of family or friends that causes a person to withdraw from their normal social activities. This can lead to loneliness and depression among seniors.
Residents in the long-term care environment are not immune to these feelings; however, they have the benefit of access to resources and opportunities that older Americans who live alone may not have. At facilities, such as ours, residents live closely with other people around their same age to whom they can relate to on a social level. They can also participate in a variety of activities such as games, resident councils, religious services, entertainment evenings, group exercises and public outings that help enhance their quality of life.
A 2013-2014 study of long-term care facilities proved that residents who have social contact with other residents, staff and visitors increase their ability to thrive in their environments. By giving them a sense of purpose and reducing psychological distress, participation in activities enriched the residents’ physical and emotional well-being. Resident engagement also benefits others, especially younger generations, by strengthening the bonds to the knowledge and traditions of the past.
Our facility’s staff often note that the most rewarding aspects of their employment are talking with residents and learning about their lives. Older Americans in long-term care are vital parts of our community and we encourage and appreciate their continued engagement. The following are ways that residents can remain engaged:
Suggested ways to engage
- Attending entertainment events
- Doing puzzles and brain games like Sudoku and word searches
- Expressing their creative talents through writing, playing music, or singing
- If they are mobile, going for walks. If they are not mobile, they can ask to be taken for walks around the facility.
- Joining a club
- Joining resident council meetings
- Participating in arts and crafts projects
- Participating in group games
- Sharing your wisdom with younger people
- Volunteering to help welcome new residents
- Whenever possible, eating meals with other residents
Connect with us
Westside Terrace Healthcare is committed to supporting the health and well-being of older Americans and the disabled. We are proud to be home to a diverse group of residents who have a variety of interests. To serve them and their loved ones is a privilege that we hold dear. Happy Older Americans Month!