By Wally Pearce, Winters Elder Day Council
Special to the Express
It’s fitting that senior independence is celebrated during the month of February. A winter month that tests the fortitude of most people between the shortened days and unpredictable weather. But the commitment to protecting and defending the rights of our mature neighbors is an annual calling.
February is National Senior Independence Month giving communities an opportunity to share ideas that can help the older adults in our lives maintain their independence while calling out the great work our local senior centers and retirement organizations are doing.
The choice of February was first established to not only help senior citizens maintain control over their own decisions, but to encourage them to look at their living situation and decide if they need to make changes to improve their quality of life and is also a good time to prepare our loved ones to age well.
For most seniors, continuing to live at home is a key part of their independence. That’s why it’s crucial to equip our loved ones’ so they’re safe and able to perform tasks on their own. Install an up to date security system, non-slip floor mats, organize a living area so all items are accessible, and maintain a well-lit environment to help prevent falls. Ensure that senior citizens have proper access to working telephones, both portable and fixed, so each system can be easily and quickly accessible during any emergency. Program in emergency phone numbers as well.
Maintaining a healthy mind and body is important for preserving independence and pride. Be sure loved ones get regular exercise, take walks (when possible), and eat well. Seniors can keep their minds sharp by developing a new skill, participating in a new activity, or learning how to use a new technology. Aging doesn’t mean it’s time to count fewer freedoms and let go of an independent lifestyle.
National Senior Independence Month is a time to encourage seniors to prioritize their own individual needs to reach goals for health and happiness.
Senior citizen’s need to ensure their living space is properly maintained and If their living space includes a yard or even an outdoor entrance, a properly placed security device can detect any nearby gesture and motion light sensors can help identify, as well as fend off, any unwanted persons.
Functioning cellphones and tablets also contribute to a senior’s safety. In addition to allowing seniors to contact people/services immediately, cellphones offer built-in flashlights and emergency contact apps make a call for help quick/easy. They can also serve as location devices and, of course, provide maps and navigation.
Cleaning and organizing can have great positive impact on a person’s physical and mental health. People should try to declutter in January at the start of the year. Another added benefit of decluttering is the ability to move without fear of tripping and falling. Clearing walkways and rearranging furniture are wonderful ways to ensure safety and comfort.
Properly installed grab bars in a senior’s bathroom can aid in impaired movement and avert falls. Grab bars are designed to enable a person to maintain balance, lessen fatigue while standing, hold some of their weight while maneuvering, or have something to grab onto in case of a slip or fall. If your residence has stairs, check the banisters to make sure they are safe. If you have dark hallways or dark closets, install motion sensor stick-on lights that might help to solve the problem. If you have any other suggestions for seniors living an active, independent lifestyle, please share these tips with them.
Most importantly, call and visit the older adults in your life often. Seniors who’re active are healthier, so develop a dependable routine of contact. Stop by in the mornings or call after dinner. If they no longer drive, take them where they may need to go, such as a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or just a leisurely ride out into the community, maybe to visit a friend.
And when possible, help older adults volunteer in their community. Volunteering can help in an active social life. It’s time to give back to those seniors who set us up for our success — or those who became our friends.
This February 2022, the Winters Elder Day Council encourages everyone to celebrate National Senior Independence Month by making positive life changes that helps older adults remain independent. To live a liberated lifestyle with dignity is important to all older adults, and its key to families and community.