It's common knowledge that the U.S. population is growing older. In 2002 almost 35.2 million Americans were age 65 or older and 4.6 million of them were 85 or older. In fact, there are over 50,000 centenarians living in the United States.
As we celebrate Older Americans Month this May, it's a good time to reflect on a few key strategies and resources that can help us and our loved ones succeed at this year's theme, "Aging Well, Living Well."
Aging isn't what it used to be, thanks in part to medical advances and many options in lifestyles, living arrangements and community-based services. Across the country older people are living well as they age by following a few basic principles such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and staying actively engaged in the world around them.
Safety is another important factor in older Americans' quest to age well. Approximately 2 million seniors are the victims of serious crimes each year, ranging from fraud to murder.
Although seniors are less likely to be victims of violent crime than teens and young adults, they are more likely to be attacked by strangers and to be seriously hurt than younger persons. The elderly are also more likely to be victims of fraud than the young.
These are the reasons behind sponsorship of Dignity Memorial Smart & Safe Seniors, a free community program offering safety strategies for seniors. Smart & Safe seniors discusses home invasions, consumer fraud, cons and scams and travel safety.
It's been our privilege to work with seniors in our area who exemplify the adage, "Age brings wisdom." We encourage our community to reflect on the many advantages we enjoy because of today's senior generation.
Pat Garrett, Augusta (Editor's note: The writer is director of Smart & Safe Seniors, 1134 Telfair St., Augusta, 30901; (706) 722-5560.)