Every May offers an opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders during Older Americans Month. By 2060, the projected population of people age 65 and older will be about 98 million. That means about 1 in 4 of Americans will be a senior citizen. 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.”
Older Americans thrive in long-term care
Led by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging, OAM has recognized older people and their contributions to our communities for more than 50 years. 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 can “age their way” and thrive whether they live independently or in a long-term care 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 in their 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 people 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, 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, such as younger staff members, by strengthening the bonds to the knowledge and traditions of the past.
Whether it’s a crafting project activity or hosting an education program, it’s important to provide older residents with ways to continue to learn, engage and express themselves. Studies have proven that creative activities such as art therapy enhance residents’ moods, increase self-esteem and self-confidence as well as reduce anxiety. Facilities can help their residents contribute to their community and age “their way” through a number of different activities such as encouraging participation in civic and social organizations.
Let us help
Supply360 has many products, such as assistive devices, to help older people improve their quality of life and age “their way”. Additionally, our regulatory resource partner, The Compliance Store has a go-to resource for facilities to build and maintain a meaningful activities program for their residents.