Tips for National Senior Independence Month
Posted on 02/09/2023

February is National Senior Independence Month. What a great time to explore ways to celebrate independence while also planning to create and maintain a safe environment for the years ahead. Consider these tips to help in planning for a healthy future: 

Connect with family, friends, and religious or social groups: Avoid isolation by taking time to reconnect or make new contacts. Senior Independence Month is a good time to fill the calendar with scheduled activities and interactions to take place throughout the year. Community centers and libraries are often great resources for finding new activity groups. They can also be safe and accessible places to meet with new contacts who you are just getting to know. 

Secure transportation: If you have your own vehicle, book tune-ups or oil changes in advance and renew your driver’s license when it’s nearing expiration. For public transportation on Ben Franklin Transit (BFT), make sure to pick up a bus pass and plan your route ahead of time. If you need door-to-door transportation, you may apply for Dial-A-Ride services. Another fantastic resource is People for People to schedule medical transportation. This is a good month to also plan ahead and check in with a friend or family member who drives you to appointments.   

Schedule medical, dental or therapy appointments: Be sure to see your primary care provider (PCP) or specialists as recommended. It may be time to speak with your PCP regarding a health concern that has been a concern or not addressed. Discuss exercise and nutrition recommendations with your PCP. We know wait times can be long, so be proactive in scheduling appointments well before you are due for follow-up. 

Review your medication list with your PCP and pharmacist: It’s especially important to tell your healthcare team about over-the-counter and prescribed medications. Discuss and be aware of side effects that may be of concern, such as increased fall risk. It could be time to adjust the dosage, add, eliminate or change medication.   

Plan nutritious meals: Include new recipes as well as your favorite foods. Enjoy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Limit high-fat and high-sugar foods and drinks. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. 

Exercise to maintain and build strength: Walk with a partner for both safety and companionship on a maintained/designated walking path or at the local mall. Exercising in place by doing stretches, using arm weights, or other activities recommended by your physician will continue to optimize your health. Local gyms and community centers have guided exercise programs that can be tailored for seniors. 

Declutter or reorganize your home: When looking around your rooms, it's important to clear paths to eliminate trip hazards and create a more relaxed environment. Tackle one area at a time to make this task enjoyable rather than overwhelming. Sometimes it helps to have another person or a small group help you remove items you no longer need, clean challenging areas and move furniture to create space. Reaching out for help and contacting family, friends, and community organizations is a great way to connect with your environment. 

Set up technology: A phone or tablet can be used for brain-stimulating puzzles and games and can also be used as a lifeline to loved ones or medical care.   

Install or inspect existing safety equipment: Adding grab bars that may be needed now or in the future is a great place to start. Regularly change bulbs, update lighting and pay attention to cords or other tripping hazards. Check batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors every quarter. Add rug adhesive to area rugs and bathmats and wear comfortable, supportive slip-resistant shoes.    

Taking the time now to address current or potential upcoming needs can help ensure long-lasting independence for the future while making your home a safe haven for yourself and loved ones of all ages. Stay tuned for more details regarding these topics throughout the year. Our Healthy Aging Team at Benton-Franklin Health District wishes everyone a wonderful National Senior Independence Month.