By Johanna Hicks, Texas AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent for Hopkins County, [email protected]
As people age, nutrition and physical activity are even more important to their overall health. More than 12% of the population in Texas is older than 65, and that number is expected to surpass 20% by 2050. The theme of this year’s Older Americans Month in May is “Age My Way.”
The Age My Way theme refers to adults aging in a way that allows them to remain involved in their communities and maintain their independence. I recently implemented a 4-session series, “Be Well, Live Well”, that included nutrition, physical activity, meal planning, and food safety, leading up the May emphasis. Seven individuals completed the series and received some great incentive items, including pedometers, refrigerator thermometers, nutrition label magnifiers, shopping pads, and more.
It is important that older Americans age in a way that reflects their personal needs and interests. Nutrition is a vital part of healthy living, and good eating habits are important at any age. Protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and dietary fiber are just some of the nutrients that are important as we age. Many AgriLife Extension programs are designed in a manner that will resonate with a senior audience, such as staying active, being socially engaged and eating healthy to help maintain independence.
The “Be Well, Live Well Healthy Aging” Series addressed those very topics. The program helps people learn how to make healthy food choices, prepare and store food safely, become more physically active and improve food security. Many older adults may also have chronic diseases that can impact their quality of life and food choices, especially when looking at chronic diseases including hypertension and diabetes that are related to the foods we choose. I will be implementing “Cooking Well with Diabetes” in August, so stay tuned for information on that series.
Cultivating mindfulness is also important for older adults. Our mental, emotional and physical health suffers when we lose connection with others and with ourselves. A well-balanced life is vital for personal wellness, and includes work, recreation, interacting with family and friends, community engagement, being physically and spiritually active, and rest. Some specific ways older adults can achieve a better balance in their lives is to increase their social connections and engage in hobbies or activities they enjoy.
Older adults may be more solitary or homebound. Those who can’t get out as much should try to stay in touch with friends and family by phone — or internet if they’re more tech savvy. It’s also important they have and maintain hobbies or interests – reading, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, etc.
Those who are more active can benefit from outdoor activities such as taking a walk or engaging with others through hobbies or civic engagement. The Sulphur Springs Senior Citizen’s Center has many activities for involvement.
The key message is just do something!
Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen – Brene Brown
Contact Johanna Hicks at the Hopkins County AgriLife Extension Office, P.O. Box 518, 1200-B West Houston St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; or [email protected].