Wednesday, May 30, 2012, will be a special day for seniors and those who care for them. It’s National Senior Health and Fitness Day, held on the last Wednesday of May. It is a celebration of seniors with events in all 50 states; from Laughter Yoga to free health screenings, May, which is also Older Americans Month, is full of activities to help keep seniors healthy and happy. Communities all over the country will provide activities to educate seniors about healthy living, and to assist them in living a healthier lifestyle.
Purpose of National Senior Health and Fitness Day
Patricia Henze, program director of National Senior Health Fitness Day, describes the purpose of the event: Our goals for Senior Day are to make exercise fun, to increase awareness of the benefits of a regular exercise program for older adults and to encourage all older adults to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities.”
Events include opportunities to participate in small-group exercise routines, walking tours and other physical fitness programs. Be certain to get a doctor’s approval before signing up for that 3k Senior Fun Run!
Helping Seniors and their Caregivers Stay Healthy
Why is National Senior Health and Fitness Day important for caregivers, as well as the people they care for? The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) estimates that some 65 million Americans provide care for a loved one; the majority of those are women who also hold down a full- or part-time job, and may also be caring for children or grandchildren at the same time. Whether they’re professionals or unpaid family members, caregivers deserve support and recognition. Attending a National Senior Health and Fitness Day event can provide both.
National Senior Health and Fitness Day events are a great place to network with other caregivers and learn more about the services available in your area for both the elderly and their caregivers. Resource fairs provide education about senior safety, dementia, elder law and nutrition. Attendees will meet with professionals who have expertise in many topics related to senior health and care.
Statistics from the NFCA show that many caregivers are themselves seniors, many of whom might benefit from the fitness education and health screenings available at local Fitness Day events. Sometimes, seniors can neglect their own well-being while caring for others.
Caring for an elderly loved one can be a stressful and lonely job. Family caregivers not only provide love, compassion and continued independence to elders; their free services have an estimated value of approximately 375 billion dollars a year, almost twice the amount that’s spent on professional care services like skilled nursing facilities or paid homecare. Information gathered at Fitness Day can help caregivers learn how to take care of themselves while they care for others.
National Senior Fitness Day can also provide seniors and caregivers with much needed social interaction with others who are dealing with similar challenges. Active seniors who exercise regularly and those with limited mobility will find something fun and meaningful to do. The event could also serve as a springboard to encourage the less active seniors to get involved more.
Fitness Day celebrations are planned and scheduled by individual communities in partnership with the Mature Market Resource Center, so celebrations will vary. Events may be held at houses of worship, state or local department facilities, retirement communities, shopping centers, senior centers or hospitals. In some cases, transportation may even be provided. Contact the health department or senior center to learn what’s happening in your town and get involved.