Letter to the Editor

Living Today for a Better Tomorrow

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May is Older American's Month, a great time to bring attention to the issues that affect older Iowans and create community-wide opportunities to help them improve their quality of life. This year's theme is "Living Today For a Better Tomorrow." The Culver/Judge Administration is committed to helping older Iowans live healthy, independent lives.

By 2030, more than 22 percent of Iowans will be age 65 or older. Although the risk of disease increases with advancing age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging. Many illnesses, disabilities and even death associated with chronic disease are preventable.

Nearly 40 percent of deaths in America can be attributed to poor health habits such as lack of physical exercise, poor eating habits and smoking. Older Iowans can prevent or control chronic disease by adopting healthy habits such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet and ceasing tobacco use.

In addition to a regular exercise routine, good nutrition is vital in maintaining good health. Reducing saturated fats and eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and grains can help older Iowans get on the right track to staying healthy.

Tobacco use increases the risk of heart disease and cancer and is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Older adults who stop smoking will gain immediate and long-term health benefits.

It is equally important that older Iowans maintain good mental health. Staying active and engaging in social activities within the community can greatly improve mental health. Benefits include improved mental and physical health, greater life satisfaction, lower rates of depression and lower mortality rates.

Iowans of all ages and backgrounds can celebrate Older Americans Month. Contact your local Agency on Aging and volunteer for activities in your area; promote community, state, and national efforts to serve older adults; and find ways to enrich the lives of older adults who touch your life. By working together, all Iowans can achieve better health as we age. To find an Area Agency on Aging near you, contact the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging (i4a) toll free at 866-468-7887 or at www.i4a.org.

For more information on the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs (IDEA), visit www.state.ia.us/elderaffairs. To locate resources for older adults and people with disabilities, visit www.lifelonglinks.org.

John McCalley

Director-Iowa Dept. of Elder Affairs