Sunday, August 21, 2016

"Happy Senior Citizens Day!"

Today, and every August 21st, since being declared so by then President Ronald Reagan, is National Senior Citizens Day. It's worth celebrating and noting, although there probably aren't any parades or widespread community celebrations marking the date.

Still, it's nice to get the recognition that a lifelong pursuit has netted. It's not something we can join, like an organization - and the membership requirements are quite stringent. One must be at least (pick an age) 50, 55, 60. 62, 65, or older - depending on who you ask. It definitely is not for the under 50 group.

So, we are not celebrating any particular achievement in sports, science, technology, business, parenting, education, or anything else other than living a sufficient number of years to be considered "senior." Sure, those other achievements may definitely have contributed to getting this far in life. Attaining senior status is just not based on on it is all.

As we sit here today and reflect on the day, there are many ways we can observe it. We can do nothing special. We can spend time with the kids or grandkids, if there are any. We can spend time alone just enjoying the day. We can go for a walk or bike ride. We can swim or play golf or tennis. We can go to a movie or dinner.

One thing is certain, we will go on being senior citizens with or without this day of recognition. It's just nice that it was added to the calendar with the scores of other designations, celebrations, observances, and commonly-recognized holidays.

To help us enjoy the day - and to help insure that we are still here to observe the next anniversary of this day - we need to take a serious look around us for impending perils in our home environment. There are so many innocent looking items that are just waiting to attack us and inflict unnecessary pain and injury.

One of the things that we do as aging-in-place professionals is to evaluate the living space to observe and note conditions that may present potential hazards because of how they may entrap our movement of affect our mobility. There could be too much stuff (important stuff, but too much) on the floor, stairs, counters, or furniture, or too many implements (brooms, vacuums, dustpans, wastebaskets) stacked about the room, or clothes on their way to or from the laundry that are taking up floor or seating space or hiding other things beneath them.

There could be groceries, pet food, cleaning supplies, parts, tools, or packages that haven't been opened yet that are resting here and there and taking up space. Sometimes they are stacked precariously atop each other.

We don't have to look very far, and we generally don't have to leave our own homes, to find items that need to be stored better than they are or spaces that need to be cleared of what is on them. Of course, there's no harm in discarding, donating, or selling items (depending on their condition, usefulness, and personal preference) that are no longer needed. Keeping unnecessary items and trying to find places for them is generally done at the expense of finding places for items that really do need to be stored and retained.

These are things tat can be irrespective of making improvements to our homes, and they deserve to be done on a continuous basis.

Happy Senior Citizens Day - and many more!!

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.