Older Americans Month: Honoring Older Adults
During Older Americans Month, we recognize and show appreciation for what seniors have done for our communities and the country.
The Administration on Aging (AOA) and the Administration of Community Living (ACL) create a new theme yearly. This year is Make Your Mark, which showcases the positive changes people of any age can make in the lives of seniors, caregivers, families, and communities.
As they raised families and pursued careers, older adults also helped foster and strengthen the communities around them.
The world has changed considerably throughout their lives. And even so, they continue to volunteer and give their time and resources to serve however they can. Seniors deserve recognition for their efforts, whatever they may be.
Besides acknowledging older Americans’ contributions to society, this month also raises awareness about elder abuse and neglect.
As we age, the risk of becoming a victim of abuse or neglect increases. So we must ensure they have access to the right resources to prevent these dangers.
The History Of Older Americans Month
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy and part of the National Council of Senior Citizens came together in the hope that they could solve the mounting burdens for the country’s older population.
Then, one-third of America’s 17 million seniors 65 and above lived below the poverty line and lacked access to many of the social programs we have today.
With this in mind, Kennedy and the NCSC established May as Senior Citizens month to promote awareness about these concerns and acknowledge their contributions.
Later, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in 1965, May officially became Older Americans Month.
The Older Americans Act was built upon Kennedy’s initiative, significantly increasing awareness and fostering community engagement.
Additionally, the bill created a definitive, positive change for older Americans, such as financial and federal aid for the country’s aging population. Furthermore, it also:
- Created the Administration on Agency, the first federal department to focus on seniors’ problems.
- Popularized nutrition programs, provided transportation services, federally-backed adult day care programs, legal counsel, and other assistance for seniors.
- Laid the foundation for Medicare
Since then, every president has acknowledged May as well as the contributions of older adults.
This year’s presidential Proclamation on Older Americans Month focuses on older Americans’ struggles during the coronavirus outbreak and brings attention to the dangers of social isolation and loneliness.
Here is an excerpt from President Trump’s 2020 proclamation:
“Older Americans are among those most vulnerable to the ravages of the coronavirus. As they continue to adhere to the special guidance put in place to protect them, we must acknowledge that far too many are facing hardships of loneliness and social isolation.
Many families are unable to visit elderly parents and grandparents, and many men and women in retirement and nursing homes have been cut off from personal contact and meaningful social connections.
During this precarious and stressful time, we must remember our treasured older adults and recommit to doing what we can to support and care for them. I urge all Americans to reach out to loved ones, neighbors, and strangers to extend love, compassion, and encouragement.
By delivering food and supplies to the homebound, mailing greeting cards, or using technology to stay connected, we can support our seniors as we defeat the virus.
Older Americans know how to overcome. They have done it their whole lives. With the country rallying behind them we can ensure that they can continue to live lives of dignity, joy, and purpose long after the threat of the virus has faded.”
Observing Older Americans Month
Even during the current COVID-19 pandemic, you can participate in Older Americans Month — and make your mark — no matter how young or old you are.
This graphic from ACL offers some great ideas for virtual engagement, so you can still participate in activities while being safe.
Share Your Story
Stories bring us closer together, even through physical separation. Remembering experiences you had with your childhood friends, family vacations, teachers who shaped you, or the moment you found out you were a grandparent are all things that link you with your past and those who made a difference in your life.
Moreover, sharing these stories with loved ones deepens your relationships and brings you closer together. And reflecting on how you handled other difficult experiences will help you learn how to get through the current one.
Letting your friends and relatives know what you love about them builds and strengthens them and creates a stronger bond with yourself.
Plus, you don’t have to be face-to-face to share your story. You can tell it on the phone, the computer, letters, photos, old newspapers, or even from your porch. ACL’s OAM 2020 Activity Ideas lists several ways people of any age can share with others, such as:
- Telling your grandchildren about your favorite things you did as a kid
- Interviewing a friend or loved one about their story
- Keeping a journal to share with loved ones when you see them again
Your story is worth sharing. If you need some inspiration to get started, this list of Great Questions from StoryCorps is an excellent place to begin.
Doing Our Part To Honor Older Americans At MeetCaregivers
If you or a loved one need extra support during this time, MeetCaregivers can help. Our qualified caregivers can assist with daily needs, transportation, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and more.
Visit our Blog for additional caregivers, senior living, and lifestyle resources.
- “OAM 2020 Activity Ideas.” OAM 2020 Activity Ideas | ACL Administration for Community Living, acl.gov/oam/2020/oam-2020-activity-ideas.
- “Older Americans Month – May.” National Day Calendar, 26 Dec. 2018, nationaldaycalendar.com/older-americans-month-may/.
- “Older Americans Month 2020.” Older Americans Month 2020 | ACL Administration for Community Living, acl.gov/oam/2020/older-americans-month-2020.
- “Proclamation on Older Americans Month, 2020.” The White House, The United States Government, 30 Apr. 2020, www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-older-americans-month-2020/.
- “The History of Older Americans Month: Five Star Senior Living.” The History of Older Americans Month | Five Star Senior Living, www.fivestarseniorliving.com/blog-post/the-history-of-older-americans-month.