Older Americans Month: Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

Professional caregivers know that the primary responsibility they have to their senior client is to keep them safe and healthy. This entails keeping them mentally and physically (within capabilities) active, well-nourished, but perhaps most importantly, injury-free.

May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme, Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow, is focused on injury prevention. Older adults are at a much higher risk of unintentional injury and even death than the rest of the population.

Senior fall prevention can be the first line of defense in preventing unintentional injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. In 2010, about 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Community Living hope to raise awareness and help older Americans take control of their safety, thereby living longer and healthier lives.

Older Americans Month was established by President John F. Kennedy in May of 1963, after meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens. At that time, there were 17 million Americans aged 65 and above. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the designation to “Older Americans Month.“ In 2012, the census bureau counted 43.1 million people who were 65 and older in the United States. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other activities, in order to recognize the contributions of older persons in the community.

Here are some events that are taking place around the country:

Seattle/King County, Washington
A series of short films will be presented in a new festival dedicated to broadening the ways we think about aging.The Healthy Aging Partnership Film Short Festival takes place on Tuesday, May 6, with a reception and screening.

Albany, New York
Senior Citizens' Day 2014 will be held on Tuesday, May 6 at the Hart Theater in the Egg at the Empire State Plaza. The ceremony will honor older citizens from around New York State, with a focus on those who have lent their expertise to their communities through volunteerism.

Evanston, Illinois
The 16th Annual Aging Well Conference is a free half-day conference on May 9 providing strategies for healthy aging for older adults, their families, caregivers and professionals. The conference includes a continental breakfast and a choice of two workshops.

Nationwide
National Senior Health & Fitness Day is held nationwide on the last Wednesday in May during Older Americans Month. Over 1,000 locations across the nation will hold health and fitness events. 2014 marks the 21st year of the program.

For information on events, workshops, and in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or call 1(800) 677-1116 to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans. You can also keep up with the latest events and news by following #OAM2014 on Twitter.

A great way to keep seniors safe is to make sure their caregivers are qualified. Caregiverlist recommends working with a quality home care agency in order to assure that the caregiver has received qualified caregiver training such as the training and certification offered by Caregiverlist Training University’s Basic Caregiver Training. Home care agencies also routinely perform background checks and drug testing prior to employment.

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