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Honoring Older Americans Month in May

Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Tue, May 6th 2014

May is about spring, an appreciation of our survival of another brutal winter, and the anticipation of fun-filled summers. But it's also about the honoring of older Americans.

happy senior woman with rosesThat's right - May is Older Americans Month! What does this mean? In 1963, our government declared May to be a time to recognize our nation's older people for their contributions to society and to provide them with information and resources to help them stay healthy for years to come.

In honor of Older Americans Month, many of my posts during the month of May will be focused on our nation's elders. Specifically, I'll address how later life can be a time of wellness if we take steps to actively stay healthy and safe.

In fact, the theme for this year's Older Americans Month is "Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow." I like this choice because we often ignore the practical steps we can take to make our older years safer in light of physical and environmental changes. Unfortunately, older adults are at higher risk than younger people of experiencing accidents and injuries that can lead to serious disability or death. According to the official website for Older Americans Month, unintentional injuries among older adults result in 6 million medically treated incidents and over 30,000 deaths each year.

Some of the more common safety issues faced by older adults include:

  • Higher risk of falls
  • Elevated risk of dying in a fire
  • Motor vehicle safety issues
  • Injuries related to consumer products (ladders, bed rails)
  • Medication interactions, reactions, and toxicity
  • Suffocation and choking

Watch for articles on each of these topics in the weeks to come. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to honor Older Americans Month:

  • Read the Safety Tips provided by the Administration on Community Living to learn how to enhance the safety of you or your older family member.
  • Share these safety tips on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) so others can benefit from them.
  • Host a Safety Day at your workplace by asking one or more local professionals to come and speak on the issues listed above. You might contact the fire department, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the local health department to present information on fire safety, driving safety, or medication safety.
  • Check on an older person in your life, whether it be a family member, friend, or neighbor. Is there anything you can do for the person to make the home a safer place to live?

What are you going to do this month to promote health and safety among the older people in your life? Share your ideas here.


Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.

Itís a true blessing to have you visit my blog on mental health and wellness. I also write blogs on faith and caregiving in addition to teaching part-time for Columbia College of Missouri. For more information about my background and writing, visit my webpage at

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