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Companions and More

We all know that there is a fine line between being alone and being lonely. Loneliness can become an unwelcome companion far too easily for older adults in our society. Whether it’s for physical or cognitive reasons, older adults tend to stay inside, and this isolation adversely affects all four of the columns of a successful life: mind, body, spirit, and community.

Enter a pet…that companion who is always happy to see you (perhaps not effusively, as some cat owners will attest), who depends on you, and who, for the most part, is a joy to have around. Pets are among the few elements that can shore up every column of life, at any stage of life, and they can play an even more powerful role as we get older.

According to a recent poll by the Fort Lauderdale News/Sun-Sentinel, 90% of seniors say they are less lonely and much happier since adopting an animal. Pets create structure in the homes in which they live.  For older adults, this structure can provide routines for exercise and socialization that might not otherwise exist. After all, you might not want to get out of bed, but your pet needs you to!

A recent study cited in McCall’s Magazine found that older people who own pets visit the doctor 16% less often than those without pets. Pets have been proven to increase the mental alertness of people with dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, and significantly increase the survival rate during the first year after discharge from the hospital.

Pet owners, according to a study at Baker Medical Research Institute, have lower blood pressure and triglyceride and cholesterol levels than do non-owners. In addition, all that petting, cuddling, and unconditional love significantly reduces stress levels. “If this was a drug, it would be marketed tomorrow,” said Dr. Roger Lavelle in reference to the study.

Pets are also the best ego booster in the world…they think you are the greatest! Pets fill the desire to be useful, offering the very satisfying duty of taking care of another living thing.  At the end of the day, having a pet means that you have made a promise to be involved in another life. This commitment, while being one of the most positive decisions you can make, comes with responsibility. 

Animals come with their own sets of requirements, so it’s important to choose wisely.  Different breeds of dogs and cats tend to have specific characteristics and needs, so it’s critical to be realistic in determining the type of pet you want and the type you can handle, which are not always the same thing.

What is your temperament? If you need things to be neat or if unpredictability is difficult for you to handle, then a puppy or large animal may not be a good fit. Do you want to cuddle, or would you prefer an animal that is less “needy”?  For the non-cuddler, a bird or fish may be the best option.

What is your physical condition? Most dogs need to be walked A LOT. While cats can live indoors all of the time, their litter box needs to be changed regularly, an activity which requires bending over. Do you have the stamina to train a puppy or kitten?

What are your living conditions?  A big animal requires a big space. If you are living in a facility, you need to confirm the agreements regarding ownership of animals. Some places, including apartments, have a size limitation on pets, don’t allow animals with fur, and/or require an additional fee or deposit for pets.

Are finances an issue? Pets cost money. Not only is there food and possibly litter, but things like medications, toys, and grooming add to the costs. According to the ASPCA, not counting an injury or illness, a puppy can cost more than $810 during its first year, while a fish only costs around $235 to get set up in an aquarium. 

Is the pet the right age? A young pet may outlive its owner. Birds especially have long life spans. Yet it’s also important that the pet isn’t too old, since it may start to have physical limitations and require more vet visits which could be a problem if finances or transportation is an issue.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to find the type of companionship that is the best fit. There are many options, and the Humane Society might be a good place to start. They can provide a pet for a lower cost than a breeder. Additionally, shelter employees often know an animal’s personality and can help make the best match. Many shelters also have pets besides dogs and cats that can range from birds to snakes to rabbits.

If you aren’t ready for the commitment of a pet or if there are some limiting cognitive or physical issues, you might consider a robotic pet such as Hasbro’s new line of companion pets, Joy for All. While you probably won’t confuse the companion pets for real animals, they provide a good substitute and have proven especially effective for folks with dementia.

At Senior Citizens Inc. we know the therapeutic power that pets can provide with their unconditional companionship. A few years ago, we began a pet food program for our Meals on Wheels clients so that both our clients and their beloved pets can remain healthy. Thanks to donations of pet food and grants, we’ve now begun to provide flea and preventive medications as well

 The Hasbro Joy for All pets are a big hit at our Byck Adult Daytime Care Center, where clients who previously struggled to communicate are now smiling and talking to their “pet.” And if you’ve visited SCI in the past few years, you’ve met Petunia, our fluffy ambassador of cat love.  She has quite the fan base among people stopping by just to visit her. She sits in on Learning Center classes, loves to attend meetings, and has a knack for knowing when someone needs pet petting therapy. 

While all of these praises of pets may sound like a tall order for a small bundle of fur to fill, I promise you they are up to the challenge. And if you need further proof or if it’s just an occasional fix for pet companionship you need, Petunia stands ready for your visit!

Weathering the Storm

I grew up in Tornado Alley where as a child we practiced crouching under our desks at school or running to an interior bathroom as our only means of preparation in the path of danger. Thirty years later, I moved to beautiful Coastal Georgia where hurricanes are nature’s weapon. While tornados are unpredictable and rapid to form and strike, hurricanes give plenty of time to take action.  And while that is a plus on the side of hurricanes, they also have an offsetting negative - unlike the “Russian Roulette” nature of tornados, hurricanes leave no one unaffected in their wake and last a lot longer.

So, with it being “that time of year” and Matthew still a fresh memory, I thought this might be a good time to share some things I have learned, particularly for those of us moving into “the next chapter.” As with most things, good preparation makes a huge difference.  It may take a little time, but preparation pays off during an emergency.

First, make a plan for evacuation. Don’t plan to “ride it out” in your home, particularly if you are alone or frail. (Hello…Matthew!) Know for sure how you are going to leave the area. If you require transportation and medical assistance during an evacuation and have no other resources such as family, friends, neighbors, or church members to help, you may qualify for the Functional, Access, and Medical Needs Registry. Call your county’s health department to learn more about the registry. In Chatham County, the number is 912-691-7443. You must apply before a storm threatens our area!

Once you have your transportation settled, along with deciding which keepsakes to take, I recommend you prepare three “kits.”

Emergency Medical kit: 
· 2-6 day supply of current medications
· Insulated bag to carry any medication (such as insulin) that needs to stay chilled (Tip: keep an ice bag in the freezer at all times so you can grab it and go.)
· Medical equipment you use, such as hearing aide batteries, a blood pressure cuff
· Your Yellow Dot packet. You can get your packet from Senior Citizens Inc. (912-236-0363). If you don’t have one, put the following in a large plastic, waterproof bag:
     An up-to-date list of your medications and the dosages
     Copy of your medical records. You can get this from your doctor and it should include a list of your medical issues and how they are being treated.
     Copy of your medical insurance cards

Important Information kit:
· Copy of your home/car insurance policies
· Phone number of your insurance broker
· Copy of your identification cards/passport
· Copy of your credit cards
· Phone numbers of family and friends

Road Trip kit:
· Bag of travel-size toiletries
· Cash – at least $50, if possible, in small bills
· Toilet paper – at least 1-2 rolls (trust me on this!)
· Extra set of clothes, from underwear to coat and an extra pair of shoes
· Deck of cards, good book
· Water
· Snacks, such as soft fruit bars, shelf-stable food
· Cell phone charger
· Manual can opener
· Wine opener (a necessity in my book!
· Basic First Aid kit
· Pocket knife
· Blanket and Pillow to make a more comfortable car ride and be a little touch of home wherever you land.

When it’s time to evacuate, here are a few tips for the road:
· Call your family and friends before leaving and let them know your plans.
· Grab your Kits (medical, important Info, road)
· Make frequent stops on the road. Everyone needs to stretch but it is particularly important for circulation reasons that you not sit too long. At the very least, you don’t want to end up at your final destination achy, stiff and with swollen ankles!
· Use the restroom at each stop.  As Mom said, you never know when the next clean one will come your way.
· Drink water. Water is preferable to sodas, coffee, or my previously mentioned favorite, wine. Dehydration is a serious issue but it is particularly damaging as we get older.

With any luck, we won’t be called upon to put our plans into action. But if we do, you’ll be glad that you took advantage of a hurricane’s one asset: the time to prepare. It’s a lot more effective (and easier) than trying to hide under your desk!         

For the past 17 years, Patti Lyons has been the President of Senior Citizens Inc., a nonprofit organization that has been helping people age successfully for almost 60 years. She serves on the Meals On Wheels America Board and is a Governor’s appointee to the Georgia Council on Aging.

A House is Not a Home

I love my house. To me it's perfect - a yard that isn't too big to keep weeded, not too many bathrooms to clean, and a nice kitchen for my husband to cook for me. But what really makes it perfect is that it's home...that special place we each have and where we all want to live.

Home plays a strong role in every chapter of our lives...to 'leave home' is a rite of passage, we cherish our 'first place' and we long to buy our first home. It is a symbol of independence and becomes even more so as we age.

Home, whether it’s how to remain there or how to leave, is one of the topics I am most often asked about in my role at Senior Citizens Inc. (SCI). After all, our organization was built around helping people age successfully, and for many of us that means living at home. Let's talk first about staying at home.

There are many things you can do to your home to make it easier for you to age in place. These include installing grab bars, building ramps, and even the simple removal of rugs and the rearrangement of furniture. An Aging Care Specialist can come to your home and help identify ways to prepare your house for your next chapter.

In addition, there are many organizations in town, including SCI, that can provide support services in your home. These include meal delivery/preparation, housekeeping, shopping, assistance with grooming, etc. You can even get someone to coordinate it all for you. These services can be provided on a short-term basis, such as during the recovery from surgery, or in an open-ended relationship that lasts for years. One note of caution: use a trusted service provider rather than hiring someone directly. You want someone who has been thoroughly vetted and trained AND is covered by liability insurance.

Regardless of these changes and services in your home, there may come a time when it is best for you to leave your home. Too often, people see this as an ending and not the beginning of the next adventure. What's important to remember is, like the song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David says, “a house is not a home". You can find 'home' and remain independent (even with a little help) in a new place. 

I strongly recommend doing your fact-finding before there’s an emergency. A crisis situation doesn’t allow the time to look at all of your options and find the best place for you to live. So how do you begin?

The first thing to consider is what level of assistance you want and need. There is a wide range of options, so be realistic when considering not only your current but anticipated future needs. In the “aging world,” there are three main categories. A “residence” provides little or no formal assistance but often includes meals and activities. “Assisted living” gives more support, but the degree of that assistance can vary. A “nursing home” or “rehabilitation facility" provides the ultimate level of care including nursing and therapeutic support. There are many layers within these categories, and there are even facilities that offer all three areas for a continuum of care.

Once you ascertain your care needs, do your research. Do you have friends who have already made this transition? Ask them about their level of satisfaction and ask their advice. Visit potential places, preferably with a friend or relative (two sets of eyes are better than one!) Sit down and talk to the folks who live there. Stay for lunch. Some places will even let you spend the night! Ask questions, such as how much do added services like laundry cost? Can you access the transportation service to any location you want? Can you eat in your room if you like or invite a friend to dinner? After each tour, think about what you liked or didn't like about the facility. Did you like the colors? Was it cozy or did it feel cold to you? Was there a garden? With each visit, you are narrowing down what you really want in your new place.

When you've made your decision, solicit family and friends to help with the mechanics of moving and downsizing. If that's not an option, there are companies that may be able to help. At SCI, we call it 'rightsizing,' and services run from finding a mover to helping you sell things you don't need anymore.

Once you are in your new house, make it your own. Hang your pictures.  Invite your neighbors over for coffee. Take advantage of all the social activities and make new friends...find “your place.” After all, that's what really makes a home!

For the past 17 years, Patti Lyons has been the President of Senior Citizens Inc., a nonprofit organization that has been helping people age successfully for almost 60 years. She serves on the Meals On Wheels America Board and is a Governor’s appointee to the Georgia Council on Aging.

 

Blue Sky Happiness

A few years ago I heard on the radio an interview with a 102-year-old woman. She said that there are some days when she wonders why she still wants be here, but then she looks up at a blue sky and says to herself, “Ah, that’s why!” For her, the blue sky is one of those little things that bring a burst of happiness to life. We all love the grand moments, such as weddings, once-in-a-lifetime vacations, the birth of a child, but in truth, it is those brief moments of “happy” that keep us going…that give every day its shine.

I think of this "blue sky” comment almost every day as I go about my life. Like all of us, I just want to be happy. I know that there are genuinely sad times in all of our lives and I am not saying we can “Pollyanna” those moments away, but hopefully, most of our lives are spent in the ordinary times. Those are the times when we can influence our own levels of happiness. 

First, the why: happiness is good for us. There are many of scientific studies that prove the health benefits of being happy. Just Google “happy” if you want the research, but basically, happiness is like a super pill - it improves our mind, body, and spirit in every way. It helps us recover from surgery faster, makes learning easier and a 2013 article in Psychology Today even links happiness to preventing dementia.

So how does one bring more happiness to life? It happens by simply looking for the small nuggets of wonder and joy that lie all around us everyday…the blue sky. Those nuggets are different for each of us - what brings on my happy may be different from what brings on yours, but I guarantee, if you look, you will find it. 

Best of all for those of us moving into the next chapter of life, being happy gets easier as we get older. According to a joint study by Tufts and Stanford Universities, even during a time when factors, such as mobility, health, and social isolation can make looking for our blue sky seem more difficult, older adults are more adapt at finding the happy moments in a situation. In addition, a 2011 Michigan State University study showed that simply reminiscing about things that make us happy to the point of smiling had the same health benefits as the original moment.  

Since hearing the radio interview with the 102-year-old, I started keeping a list of the small things that make me happy. I pull it out every once in a while and add new observationsIt’s almost like reading a diary in that I can tell what else was happening in my life by what was bringing me joy, and just reading it makes me happy.

Here are a few things on my list:

* Watching tomatoes turn red in my garden
* The first sip of coffee in the morning
* Homemade vanilla ice cream
* Seeing mature couples holding hands     
* The smell (and taste) of honeysuckle
* Getting a handwritten letter in the mail
* The sound of crickets on a summer evening
* Learning something new – particularly at The Learning Center
* The anticipation that rises when the lights start to dim at a movie theater
* Roaming through a book store
* Winning my bet with my Gator friend when Tennessee and Florida play football
* The blue of the Smoky Mountains
* Champagne
* Finishing a crossword puzzle
*  And, of course, a blue sky

As you can see, the list isn’t full of grand things but I’m smiling!  Start identifying your list now and while you don’t have to write it down, I encourage you to do so.   You can bring it out when life is cloudy to bring on your own blue sky.

Volunteering: what are you waiting for?

This past week, Rosalie Wilson, a 79-year-old dynamo and one of Senior Citizens’ incredible volunteers, won the Herschel V. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year award. This award is given out annually by United Way and HandsOn Savannah to recognize someone who personifies the spirit of volunteering. Rosalie holds three different volunteer “jobs” at SCI, ranging from  helping a home-bound older adult four days a week to delivering meals weekly and making telephone calls three days a week to remind other Meals on Wheels volunteers of their routes for the next day. 

Granted, Rosalie is truly special (hence the award!) but it got me thinking as I listened to her joyful talk at the event that while volunteering is, without a doubt, good for our society, it is also good for us as individuals. It is one of those rare activities that strengthen all four “columns” that support a successful life: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Community. 

Mind: There is no denying that volunteering your time will improve your mind. Rosalie says “it keeps her sharp,” and numerous medical studies, including a recent report from Brown University regarding Meals on Wheels, show that spending time with others makes dramatic improvements to our mental health. Plus, you can’t help learning something from the experience, whether it’s the history of someone’s life or the history of the world if you volunteer as a tutor.

Body: Just getting out of your house improves your body. (Imagine the impact on your muscles if you mowed the grass of your home-bound neighbor!) But one of the great things about volunteering is that there is an opportunity for you regardless of your physical situation. Even if you are the beneficiary of the above-mentioned lawn work, you can be a “friendly caller” to someone else or perhaps make cards to brighten the day of someone in the hospital.

Spirit: It is guaranteed that your spirit will be lifted by the giving of yourself. Everyone who volunteers will tell you that it’s hard to tell who benefits the most…the giver or the receiver. 

Community: Volunteering gives you a double whammy in this column of your life. Not only will you expand your personal community by seeing different areas of town, meeting new people, and trying new things, but it’s a given that you’ll improve the community as a whole with each experience.

Regardless of what chapter of your life you are currently in, volunteering is something that each of us can easily do.  No invitation or special equipment is needed…just you. 

There are many ways to find a volunteer experience that will be right for you. Several organizations, such as SCI and HandsOn Savannah, produce a monthly calendar to offer flexible, no-obligation volunteer opportunities. You can try things once or twice, and if they aren’t the best fit, you can try another project! In addition, many nonprofit organizations have volunteer coordinators who can work with you to help identify an opportunity that you’ll enjoy and that fits your schedule. What’s important is that you try, for merely the act of trying will have a positive impact on your “columns of life.”

Of course, all of us can’t be Rosalie, but we can follow her example. And while you may not receive the Herschel V. Jenkins award, she and others who volunteer will tell you that the true award comes in the form of the smiles they receive from those they have helped and the smiles they put in their heart. So with all of this satisfaction and happiness awaiting you in exchange for very little time and effort, the only question left is, “What are you waiting for?” 

Advocacy is simple and effective

In March, the White House announced the president’s budget recommendations for the coming year, including significant funding reductions to services that help older adults age successfully.

Obviously, I am passionate about issues that affect older adults, so I was pleased to receive a lot of calls and emails from folks who were concerned and wanted to “fight back.” These words were quickly followed by, “But I don’t know how to do it.”

As I have written previously,for each of us to age successfully, all four columns of our lives (mind, body, spirit, community) have to be strong. Advocating for the things that are important to you is an essential tool for building and maintaining your community.

It is critical that your voice be heard. Your government leaders need to know what you consider important. Best of all, they want to know your thoughts on what they are doing and should be doing. Constituents really can sway the decisions of lawmakers!

Advocacy is simple and works in any situation, whether you are trying to share your thoughts with your local officials, state legislators or Congress. Be informed. Do a little bit of research. Read or listen to a variety of news sources so you can learn more about the issue at hand. Map out exactly what you want to express. Write down your thoughts. Keep your message simple, clear and succinct. Use personal experiences and statistics to support your opinion. For example: “Within a few years, almost half of the population in my community will be over the age of 60. This makes services for older adults critical. I have seen how important they are for my mom, and the difference it makes for all of us.

The serviceslike the ones the president is proposing to reduce have been proven in numerous studies to result in healthier, happier older adults, keeping them out of the hospital and nursing homes. For the cost of one day in the hospital, Senior Citizens Inc.’s Meals on Wheels program can feed an older adult in their home for an entire year. Therefore, now is the time to be making an investment in these programs, not a reduction!”

Get the contact information for those you want to reach. You can find email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses at www.legis.ga.gov for Georgia’s state legislators and www.congress.gov for both your U.S. senators and representatives. Or you can call Senior Citizens Inc. at 912-236-0363 and we’ll be happy to find the appropriate contact information for you. Make contact! Emailing or making a phone call is the fastest way to share your thoughts. While written correspondence is effective, it can take more than two weeks to make it through the screening system. If you make a phone call, keep in mind that you will probably be talking to an intern or assistant, so be clear about why you are contacting their boss. Have your notes in front of you for easy referral. Always be polite and remember what your mom said about catching more flies with honey than vinegar. Say thank you. It’s that whole honey-vinegar thing again!

Now that you know how easy it is, teach your friends. This is one of the situations in which numbers make a difference. Of course, I hope you’ll join me in advocating for all of us to age successfully. However, regardless of what you choose to champion, I make you this promise: just like writing this column has for me, advocating for the issues you care about gets easier each time you do it. You’ll also feel good for having done it and you will have helped your community. Oh, and thank you for reading!

Navigating the Unknown

My mom was a voracious reader for all of her 94-year life. She was known for never leaving home without a book in her purse and for always reading the last page first. When asked why she would do this, she would say it was because she wanted to make sure that she was going to like the ending. For her, the journey to a satisfactory ending was the interesting part. 

For almost 20 years, I have been working in the aging world and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every day. Not just because of the wonderful people I get to interact with, or the never-boring challenges, but for the same reason that Mom read the last page of a book first. I like helping people enjoy their journey through life to a satisfying conclusion.

Recently, I wrote of the four columns of life: mind, body, spirit, community – and how each one has to be strong for a life well lived. We all know that there are times when one or more of those columns will need support and it is about those times that I am probably most often asked. The questions are usually things like: What does this change mean for Mom? What are my options? Who can help? What is the path ahead?

These questions can frighten all of us. We want to make the best decisions but this territory is usually new for us, uncertain and - unfortunately - complicated.  Like most “industries,” the aging world is vast and full of jargon and insider secrets. What makes it even harder is that this world is facing its own awkward point of change as it morphs to meet the challenges of a rapidly aging society. There are a lot of options but the first crucial step is having solid information. If life needs four columns, then having the necessary information is what levels the ground for those columns to stand upon.

Fortunately, there are folks who specialize in helping at these moments…people who can look at the situation with you, provide an honest assessment and lay out the options and even a roadmap for the future. In the aging world, they are often called Care Navigators and Aging Life Care Specialists. Both provide information but at different levels of involvement.

A Care Navigator is a “subject matter expert” who can answer questions about services available in the community. Their knowledge is broad and their involvement can range from a single phone call to years of answering questions as they arise. You want to make sure that your Care Navigator is unbiased. For example, at SCI, our Navigators provide not only information but linkage to services, whether those services are provided by SCI or another entity in the community. This is critical because you want the best answers for you, not the organization.

Aging Life Care Specialists are certified experts who can be more intensive partners. They often begin with a visit in the home where they assess the current situation and together with everyone involved, develop a plan that fits the specific needs. They can provide a formal written plan of action and can even act as a guardian, which makes this an especially valuable service for someone with no family support or whose family lives far away. Because of the experience and trust required, it is important that the Aging Life Care Specialist be certified and bonded.

Regardless of how little or how much information is needed, it is the “unknown” that makes these times difficult. Using an expert such as a Care Navigator or Aging Life Care Specialist can help shore up the columns and make the next chapter more enjoyable. After all, like my mom, we want to make sure we’re going to enjoy our entire book.

For more information about how to find a Care Navigator or Aging Life Care Specialist in your community, call Senior Citizens Inc. at 912-236-0363 or toll-free at 866-579-2116 or visit www.seniorcitizensinc.org.

 

The Four Columns of Successful Aging

The Next Chapter - Improving the Lives of Seniors
Patti Lyons

Today, 12,432 people in the U.S. will celebrate their 60th birthday! This rate will continue for an estimated 10 years. It’s an amazing statistic and one that should give you pause whether you are among the lucky seniors starting the next chapter of your life or among the ones who will live in the wake that this phenomenon will cause - not only in our community but our country and world as well.

While 60 isn’t old by ANY means, it brings to the forefront the importance of aging successfully…not only personally but in our society’s imperative to ensure that reaching that age occurs for each one of us. From a community standpoint, the ramifications of a diminished tax base forced to deal with the strain of Medicare and Medicaid for a growing population that is living longer will change how and what we fund in the future. It will bring sharply into focus our core beliefs, and hopefully we’ll rise to the challenge and remember the wisdom that cautions that a society will be judged by how it cares for its young AND its old. The course we will take is beyond my expertise to foretell but it is one that I am without a doubt we will need to navigate.

I do know that each of us can play a role by making sure we do all we can to personally age successfully and prepare for the next chapter in our lives when we reach this landmark. Aging successfully is what this column is all about and has been the mission of Senior Citizens Inc. for almost 60 years. Most of the articles will deal with helping on a personal level and we’ll look at topics that help strengthen each of the columns that hold up the framework of a successful life. At times, we’ll also look at larger changes that will inevitably occur as we struggle as a nation to best define society’s role in successful aging.

So what do I mean when I write about the “columns of life”? There are four areas, or columns, that are essential to achieving a life well lived.  Each of these columns has to be strong in order for us to live life fully and successfully. 

Mind:  A sharp, keen mind is critical for successful aging.Keeping ourselves intellectually engaged and challenged is just one of the tools needed to ward off not only the natural effects of growing older but diseases like Alzheimer's that rob so many of us of our mental acuity against our will.

Body: The physical component of our life is also an essential column. Time has a way of eroding our body but we can keep it strong and healthy, and it may be one of the easiest things to control.

Spirit: A heart that is open and nourished by goodness is our third column. It is scientifically proven that those that find the positive in situations and people around them live longer.

Community: You know the phrase “it takes a village”? Well, it does. Each of us needs to have a village around us. We need to have relationships that lift and nurture us and give us the community we all crave. Keeping our community active in our lives is the fourth column in our ability to age well.

In the months to come, we’ll talk more about each of the columns and what you can do to shore them up. Until then, take a survey of your own columns. Do one or two of them need attention today? Take the time now to look at ways you can strengthen them. It doesn’t have to be a grand or difficult endeavor. Call a friend. Take a walk. Breathe deeply. Complete a crossword puzzle.  After all, regardless of our current age or where we are in the book of life, we all want to age successfully and be ready for each new chapter.

For the past 17 years, Patti Lyons has been the President of Senior Citizens Inc., a nonprofit organization that has been helping people age successfully for almost 60 years. She serves on the Meals on Wheels America Board and is a governor’s appointee to the Georgia Council on Aging.