ocoa nurse administering shotWhen one thinks about the month of February, most would have thoughts of Valentine’s Day — heart shaped balloons, red roses, and lots of chocolate (if lucky).

On a more health conscious thought, February is the American Heart Association’s annual observance of Heart Month. This yearly tradition provides cardiac related information citing statistics and comprehensive directives on how to keep your heart healthy with reminders on the importance of exercise and eating right.

Heart health is a serious focus within the Osceola Council on Aging’s (OCOA) health clinic. Seeing our client base ranges from an average of 54 years and up, our clinic sees roughly 185 patients per month with many suffering from high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.

So, what else does February commemorate? Oddly enough, there is much history, fascinating folklore, and all-around uniqueness associated with February.

According to Almanac. com, the name February comes from the Latin word februa, which means ‘to cleanse,’ or februum meaning purification. February was named after the Roman Februalia, a festival of purification and atonement. Surprisingly, the length of February was finalized when Julius Caesar remade the Roman calendar and assigned the month 28 and 29 days. February was added to the Roman calendar in 713 B.C.

Some other facts: February is one of the most misspelled words in the English language; with in the Northern Hemisphere, February is the third month of winter, in the Southern Hemisphere, February is the last month of summer; and on average, February is the snowiest month according to data from the National Weather Service (Yes, we are lucky to live in Central Florida!).

Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day, a day of curiosity when we find out if winter will last six more weeks or if spring will come early. Our 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was born on Feb. 12; Feb. 15 is Susan B. Anthony’s birthday; an American women’s rights activist who played a dominant role in the women’s suffrage movement. Feb. 21 brings Presidents Day, a federal holiday also known as (George) Washington’s Birthday and celebrated on the third Monday in February. Other celebratory observances in February include Black History Month, a time when the contributions and achievements of African Americans are celebrated.

But I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that the most important February observance for the OCOA team is National Senior Independence Month. During February, we not only celebrate our seniors’ independence but consistently work to help them maintain that autonomy. Our expansive projects to support senior independence include programs for housing and nutrition with supplemental initiatives such as transportation, utilities, energy services, and rental assistance. Additionally, we have recreational events for social interaction such as congregate dining and adult day health center.

With historical birthdays, upcoming Valentine’s Day engagements and activities, commemorations, remembrances and curious folklore, the month of February has a variety of important observances, but for the many individuals who work at the Council on Aging, most of all we celebrate our seniors, their health, and their independence.

To see more guest columns by Wendy, go to https://osceolagenerations.org/councils-corner/

Published Tuesday, February 1, 2022