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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Observed each May, Older Americans Month is an opportunity to celebrate aging and to spotlight issues unique to the age 65 and older population. Established in 1963 by President Kennedy as Senior Citizens Month, it was renamed Older Americans Month in 1980 by President Carter. In line with the 2007 national theme of "Making Choices for a Healthier Future",1 As health care professionals, we may make the difference in whether people make choices that enhance or compromise their health and quality of life. Our professional responsibility includes providing consumer-friendly (e.g. understandable, appropriate, up-to-date) information to help older adults and their families take responsibility for their health. As Care Advocates, we essentially help older adults and families make informed choices that help them maintain a sense of independence, control and dignity.
The aging of Americans poses such a significant public health challenge to our nation that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set a high priority on increasing the number of older adults who "live longer, high-quality, productive, and independent lives." 2
Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MHP, Director CDC & Department of Health & Human Services
In order to address the impending challenges our national health care system faces, we must raise our awareness and understanding of the critical issues. The CDC's Healthy People 2010 3 status update (2007) for The State of Aging and Health in America 4 initiative reveals that we are making progress in some areas but not hitting the targets in others. To speed up efforts to reduce behaviors that influence premature death and disability, the CDC report includes the following Calls to Action:
Health behavior choices need to be based on accurate information that includes promotion, prevention, and risk reduction strategies for chronic as well as acute illness. Health professionals are instrumental in sharing knowledge and advocating for the healthiest decisions. Although the responsibility for decisions and choices lies with each individual, it remains our choice as health care professionals to provide the needed information that may make the difference between healthy versus not-healthy choices.
|"Smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity were responsible for 35% of U.S. deaths in 2000 and often the basis for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes."5|
A healthier future for older Americans is within reach. We can make a difference in the lifestyle choices older adults make based on the decisions we as health professionals make to educate, encourage, motivate, and advocate. Choose wisely and well.
GERO GEMS is a monthly publication of the Center for Aging with Dignity. Compiled by Evelyn Fitzwater, this publication is designed to raise awareness of aging and related issues impacting health care professionals and our society as a whole.
Last Reviewed: Aug 02, 2010
Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati