There is a lot to celebrate today on Senior Citizens Day! One of the best things about growing older is becoming a master of “the zinger,” as Ronald Reagan demonstrated during the second presidential debate with Walter Mondale on Oct. 21, 1984. Age had become an issue during Reagan’s reelection campaign and was viewed then as a vulnerability.

He fielded this pointed question from debate panelist and Baltimore Sun reporter Henry Trewhitt: “You already are the oldest President in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall, yes, that President Kennedy, who had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuba missile crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?”

Reagan’s quick reply instantly became political legend: “Not at all, Mr. Trewhitt and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

The audience shouted in laughter and an amused Trewhitt responded, “Mr. President, I’d like to head for the fence and try to catch that one before it goes over.” Reagan won reelection, becoming the oldest U.S. president to do so, and Mondale himself later said he felt that moment effectively ended the race.

On Aug. 19, 1988, when he signed the proclamation declaring August 21st as National Senior Citizens Day, President Ronald Reagan said:

“For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”

Nearly 30% of our population of 46 million older Americans live alone, according to the Merck Manual. Loneliness, undernutrition, forgetting to take prescribed medication or missing disease symptoms are among the many challenges they face. Yet aging seniors express a keen desire to maintain their independence.

At Amada Senior Care, we are dedicated to making our communities better places for seniors by providing quality care and services that allow them to lead happy, independent lives. Encouraging the health and happiness of our beloved senior citizens is our priority every day of the year. For all of us, each day provides an opportunity to make a senior feel valued and needed. This has become even more important during this pandemic that has forced many seniors to reduce being in public settings to minimize their risk of COVID-19.

Here are a few ways to celebrate the seniors in your life and help them stay socially engaged for the good of their mental and physical health:

  • Become a pen pal by letter or email, or a phone buddy to a senior whose social activities have been curtailed. Reach out to a favorite organization that is offering a pen pal program, such as “Write-A-Senior!” at Amada Northern Colorado (ask for Liz Crews at 970-237-5747, Ext. 115).
  • If the senior is tech-savvy, play an online game together like Words With Friends, Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble or other fun brain tests. Or set a regular day and time for a face-to-face chat via FaceTime, Google Duo or other user-friendly software that lets the senior interact with grandchildren and other family and friends.
  • Help a senior cook a favorite family recipe or assist in writing out the recipe as a keepsake to present to children or grandchildren. Cherished recipes are their own type of family history project by documenting why, when, where and for whom a favorite dish was made.
  • Preserve a beloved senior’s memories by recording their stories via StoryCorps, a nonprofit dedicated to building human connections. Along with preserving their legacies, sharing stories can also positively impact seniors’ mental, emotional, and physical health. Writing about family history or reminiscing has been shown to improve seniors’ self-esteem and general outlook on life, according to AgingCare.com. Sharing stories also improves cognitive activity, especially in those suffering from depression and dementia.
  • Spend quality time outdoors, as open-air activities where there is plenty of space between people has been deemed lower risk. Consider a scenic walk, a picnic in the park, fishing or golfing and other fun pursuits that can be done while wearing a mask as needed and following recommended social distancing protocols. Staying socially engaged will help seniors physically and mentally, reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and depression. We encourage you to join Amada Senior Care in celebrating senior citizens not just on August 21st, but every day.

Let us know if we can be of more help if you or a senior loved one need special assistance during this pandemic or have questions about how to maintain personal safety and independence at home. Click here to find an Amada Senior Care location near you or call us toll-free at 877-44-AMADA.

“Celebrating Senior Citizens Day,” was written by Michelle Flores, Amada contributor.