May is Older Americans Month
According to the Administration for Community Living, when Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million Americans had reached age 65. One-third of Americans who were 65 or older were living in poverty.
In April of that year, President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens designated May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.” Every President since has issued a formal proclamation, asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.
This year’s theme is Connect, Create, Contribute—encouraging older adults and their communities to:
- Connect with friends, family, and local services and resources.
- Create through activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
- Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.
For older adults who want to age in place, connections are crucial, whether with friends and family or local services. Studies have shown time and again that social connections with a variety of people are vitally important to maintaining a healthy brain.
With these connections come the opportunity to contribute. Seniors can contribute by mentoring the leaders of tomorrow, taking to heart the need for intergenerational learning to guide and inspire young minds. They can offer their take on times gone by not discussed in any history class—a unique perspective that sheds new light on contemporary issues.
Older Americans also contribute by stepping up to help one another. Across the country, seniors connect with other seniors by delivering meals, assisting with shopping, and offering companionship, counseling, and care.
Finally, our communities can help create meaningful activities by providing resources and opportunities to seniors who want to engage in positive experiences. Local Area Agencies on Aging offer volunteer opportunities with programs that provide services for seniors to improve health literacy, increase access to quality health services, deliver food and nutrition services, provide financial and housing counseling, sponsor social and civic activities, and more. When we help seniors thrive in our community, we gain far more than we give.
Older Americans Month is sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging. Visit http://olderamericansmonth.org to learn more.