Your Loved One and Older Americans Month
May is Older Americans Month. Do you and the family member you’re providing some senior care for do anything to celebrate the month? Do you know the history of the month or why it’s important?
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. Sadly, about one-third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs in existence to meet their needs. But interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. During an April 1963 meeting between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens it was decided to designate May as “Senior Citizens Month.” That eventually became known as “Older Americans Month.”
Historically, this has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every president since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. To this day, Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country with a variety of ceremonies, events, fairs, and other kinds of related activities.
This year’s theme is “Blaze a Trail,” and it can encompass just about anything. It could be about the senior you care for blazing a trail to securing their finances; blazing a trail to health and wellness; blazing a trail to civic engagement; or blazing a trail to reinventing themselves. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living (ACL) uses this month as an opportunity to raise awareness about the many issues older adults face each day. It’s also a good time to recognize the efforts and accomplishments that many older Americans are making to advocate for themselves, their peers, and their communities.
So how would you and the older American in your life like to celebrate the month? Do you want to do something together to volunteer in your community, perhaps at a senior center or other community facility where seniors gather? Would you rather do something to ensure that quality of life is a reality for more older Americans? Would you be more interested in helping to promote healthy aging, increased community involvement for older adults, or help to tackle important issues like the prevention of elder abuse? Or would you rather just do something a bit more low-key and help your own loved one blaze a trail of getting their own affairs in order? Here is a link to some tips sheets on ways to do that: http://oam.acl.gov/2016/tipsheets.html.
Whatever you choose to do, make it a fun project and something that honors the accomplishments your loved one has already made as an older American.