Advocacy

 

 

 

A 2006 Year Calendar of Prevention and Awareness Events


There are excellent opportunities throughout the year to raise awareness among older adults and service providers of alcohol related issues affecting older adults. Below are examples of special designated days/ events with ideas on how to build on these opportunities to educate the public.

 

Obviously, no organization will use all these opportunities. However at any time of the year, harm reduction and alcohol education/prevention work geared to older adults is possible. Prevention does not have to be limited to National Drug Awareness Week.


January 2006

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January is Alzheimer Awareness Month

Suggested Activities: Raising awareness of alcohol and cognitive impairment.

 

Dealing with the Winter Doldrums

- So... what to do when you are an older adult, it's icy or rainy outside and you are stuck inside for weeks on end because you are concerned about falling? How to save your sanity during the winter months.

Many older adults find that their drinking level decreases during the summer when they can get outside, but increases during the winter months.

Prevention strategies can focus on self help ways of improving and maintaining mental wellness and activity levels during the winter. For example, that may include:

* Live in a small community? Don't have a mall? Some seniors' buildings organize a walking group in the building, using a "circuit" on different floors.

 

For other important events in January, such as National Non-Smoking Week (January 15-21),  see January Prevention Events. This year's theme is  "Where you work, live and play .... even better smoke-free".

 

 

 

February  2006

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February is Heart Month.

Suggested Activities: Alcohol and hypertension; raise awareness the role of moderate alcohol consumption of healthy heart living. What exactly is 'moderate drinking' for older adults. Prevention and education can draw attention to low risk drinking guidelines as part of having a healthy heart

 

The first full week of February is Burn Awareness Week.  This can be a good opportunity to work on harm reduction strategies with older drinkers who smoke. Burns are one of the most forms of trauma for older adults, often leading to death.

 

The second full week of February is National Children of Alcoholics Week.  (February 12-18)

 

 

March 2006

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March is Liver Awareness  ("Help Fight Liver Disease") month. Most people are not aware that many commonly prescribed medications when combined with other medications or herbals can cause liver damage. Alcohol is an important source of liver damage. See:

 

Suggested Activities:

Resources: Canadian Liver Foundation

 ~~~

March is also Nutrition Month.

Each drink provides consumed approximately 150 calories of energy, but no nutrition. Alcohol interferes with vitamin absorption. Many older people who are drinking more than moderate amounts lack sufficient levels of folates which are essential for brain and memory health.

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March 13-19 is Problem Gambling Awareness Week

 

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March 13 -19  is Brain Awareness Week

Alcohol has a significant negative effect on brain, both in the short term and long term. As noted above, any older people who are drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol lack sufficient levels of folates which are essential for brain and memory health.

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March 27 - April 2, 2006 is National Sleep Awareness Week.  The purpose of the week is to urge  people to recognize to dangers of untreated sleep disorders. Adults often have more difficulty in sleeping in later life. Alcohol can severely affect older people's sleep, by disrupting restful sleep; increasing the risk of sleep apnea, snoring, or gastro-esophageal reflux disorder.

Suggested Activities: "Getting a Good Night's Sleep" handout identifying specific sources of sleep difficulties for older adults. Highlight how specific medications (as well as alcohol) can undermine sleep; along with pointers on sleeping well.

  • "Why snoring isn't funny."

 

~~~

 

 

April 2006

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April is Alcohol Awareness Month (United States).

Resources: http://www.nmisp.org/events/nasd/index.aspx

 

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence www.ncadd.org/

National Alcohol Screening Day will be held April 6, 2006, during Alcohol Awareness Month. The program addresses a range of drinking behaviours from risky drinking to alcohol dependence.

www.ncadd.org/programs/awareness/index.html

 


April is National Cancer Awareness Month

Alcohol is directly related to increased risks of several forms of cancer, including mouth, esophageal and breast cancers. Because higher levels of alcohol consumption are often tied to poorer nutrition, alcohol can have an indirect effect as well on people's overall wellbeing. Many heavy drinkers are also smokers, which leaves them at increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

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April 23-29, 2006 is National Volunteer Week. Recognize the contributions of your older volunteers. Promote the use of older volunteers in your organization in helping to prevent or address alcohol problems in later life.

For more information on volunteers in general: www.volunteer.ca/volcan/eng/content/nvw/welcome.php

 

~~~

 

April is Stay Alert-Stay Safe Month.


 

May 2006

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May 3rd is National Anxiety Screening Day (United States).

  • Fear and anxiety are a normal part of everyday life. Events such as retirement, icy roads and winter weather, the prospect of moving, temporary or permanent changes in health, all can provoke anxiety and fear to some degree. Itís when the anxiety and fear go awry and escalate to overwhelming levels, that there is cause for concern.

 

May 7-13, 2006 is Mental Health Counselling Week (United States). This is a good opportunity to discuss depression and anxiety in later life and the role of alcohol in depression. See the  Older Adults and Depression brochure. Feel free to use it in your community.

 

May 14-20, 2006  is  Nursing Home Week (United States).

May 21-27, 2006 is  Older Americans' Mental Health Week.

 

 

The second Sunday in May is Mother's Day. (May 14)

 

May 25th is National Seniors Health and Fitness Day. (United States)

 

May is also National High Blood Pressure Education Month. (United States) http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/nhbpep_kit/   (National Health, Lung and Blood Institute). See June, also for Canada.

 

May is Older Americans Month (United States)

 


 

June 2006

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June is Seniors Month www.seniors.gc.ca

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Heading into the Summer Heat

Suggested Activities: Using "Keep your cool " handout in wellness fairs. "Keep you cool", identifies heat related problems for seniors from common medications and alcohol.

 

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June is also Stroke Awareness Month www.heartandstroke.ca

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The third Sunday in June is Father's Day. (June18, 2006)

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June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month

See the  Older Adults and Abuse brochure.

 

 

 

 

July 2006

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Heading into the Summer Heat

Suggested Activities: Using "Keep your cool " handout in wellness fairs. "Keep you cool", identifies heat related problems for seniors from common medications and alcohol.

July is also Anti-Boredom Month.

 

 

August 2006

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August is National Pain Awareness Month (United States)

Many older adults, particularly older women, have disabling conditions that leave them with continuing pain. This month is an opportunity to raise awareness  

- that pain is not part of normal aging,

- of how alcohol use can cause or worsen pain, and

- of how pain needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.

 

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Heading into the Summer Heat (cont'd)

Suggested Activities: Using "Keep your cool" handout in wellness fairs. Emphasize

- keeping hydrated (alcohol is a poor source of hydration);

- adults become less aware of thirst as they age;

- getting out of the house/apartment to keep cool.

 

August is also Admit You're Happy Month

  

 

 

September 2006

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September is Healthy Aging Month

Suggested Activities: Another opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol in the context of healthy aging, and raise awareness of how other lifestyle changes can help people "age well".

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It is also National Arthritis Month. www.arthritis.ca

 

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September is Falls Prevention Month

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September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (US)

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September is National Cholesterol Education Month

Alcohol adversely interacts with statins which are medications used to lower cholesterol. This is an opportunity to raise awareness of how lifestyle changes can help people "age well".

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Sexual Violence Awareness Week (September 10-16, Newfoundland). Like younger women, older women can be the victims of sexual violence, in their later years or  they may be experiencing the long term effects of  sexual violence that occurred earlier in their life. Excessive substance use is one of the ways some people try to cope with the memories.

 

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The third Tuesday of September is Take A Loved One to the Doctor Day (United States)

 

 

October 2006

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October 1st is the International Day of the Older Person, and October is Seniors and Elders Month in Manitoba. Excellent opportunities to celebrate the contributions of older adults, and to tackle negative stereotypes of aging.

 

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October 2-6th is National Mental Illness Awareness Week

www.cpa-apc.org

 

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October 5th, 2006 is Depression Screening Day
 

Help people recognize that depression can occur in later life too. The symptoms are different for older adults. Provide self tests for depression. Know and identify the community resource that can help older adults who are experiencing depression.

One quarter of older people who experience alcohol problems also have an underlying condition of depression. 

 

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October includes Ulcer Awareness Week

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October is Fire Prevention Month/Week. October 1-7th, 2006.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is also:

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October is also Health Literacy Month

Eight out of ten older adults in Canada operate at the two lowest levels of functional literacy. This makes it more challenging for them to understand written materials, unless these are written in a way that understands these common literacy difficulties. Difficulties with functional literacy can isolate an older person.

Suggested Activities: Use this opportunity to provide alcohol- health information in other fun and informative ways, such as plays for older adults performed by peers.

Also promote life long learning to increase the level of functional literacy among older adults.

More and more people with brain injuries (e.g., from alcohol-related car accidents or falls, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) are heading into their senior years. Emphasize the life long impact of these conditions and how they are tied to alcohol consumption (particularly binge drinking).

Long term heavy alcohol use also causes brain damage, particularly to the frontal lobe. This affects the executive function (the person's ability to make decisions and carry out plans).


 

 

 

November 2006

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November 6-12 is National Seniors Safety Week, a good opportunity to identify alcohol and medication issues in the context of driving and  falls prevention. See: www.safety-council.org/info/seniors/seniors.htm

  ~~~

 

November 13-19 Mouth Cancer Awareness Week (UK) www.bbc.co.uk/health/awareness/mouthcancer.shtml

 

 

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November is also Pain Awareness Week (Canada).

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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

 

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November is Family Violence Prevention Month (Alberta)

Resources:

Alberta's elder abuse network has created a special public service TV ad identifying abuse of an older man. Family Violence Prevention Month

See also Alberta's Elder Abuse Awareness Campaign Plan

 

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The 3rd full week of November is National Addictions Awareness Week. (Nov. 19-25).

Suggested Activities:

 

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November is National Family Caregivers Month (US)

Alcohol is involved in caregiving in two different ways. A spouse or other family member may be caring for an older person whose physical or mental health has deteriorated, sometimes because of their recent or long term alcohol use.

In others situations, the caregiving can become stressful. Alcohol or prescribed drugs can easily become some caregivers' escape hatch.

While many caregiving groups recognized the stresses, few talk about people's increased alcohol or medication use when trying to cope.

 

Suggested Activities:

 

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November 14 is World Diabetes Day.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes is a serious and growing health problem among certain groups of Canadians. It is estimated that diabetes is three to five times more prevalent among First Nations people than in the general population. November is a good opportunity to raise awareness of how alcohol affects diabetes control, which people with diabetes should not drink, and for those who drink, how to do that with greater safety.

Resources: The webpage on alcohol and diabetes on this site.

Canadian Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.ca/Section_About/type2.asp

 

December 2006

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Suggested Activities: Winter handout/ posters for these themes.

 

Alcohol and the cold temperatures:

Fact or fancy?

"With colder weather...many people may want a little alcohol to stay warm, but the reality is alcohol can do just the opposite. Alcohol increases heat loss from the body, so you may feel the cold even more.

Does alcohol help a cold? No, but alcohol can interfere with your body's ability to fight infection and it may interfere with medications that you're taking."

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Handling the Christmas/ Holiday Season

- A handout geared to older adults about avoiding the Christmas/ holidays blues; and how alcohol can make matters worse for older adults.

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Dealing with the Winter Doldrums

- What to do when you are an older adult, it's icy or rainy outside and you are stuck inside for weeks on end because you are concerned about falling. How to save your sanity.

 

Holidays and Sea Cruises

Seniors, alcohol and sea cruises offers prevention and harm reduction strategies.

 


This document is an updated version of the 2003 and 2004 calendars prepared for the national project: Seeking Solutions: Canadian Community Action on Seniors and Alcohol Issues, an initiative funded through Health Canada, National Population Health Project. Our many thanks to Health Canada for making this possible. The views expressed in these documents are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Health Canada.

 

Page last updated Friday December 30, 2005

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