“Old age may have its limitations and challenges, but in spite of them, our latter years can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of our lives.” Bill Graham, American Icon
What is Older Americans Month?
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens created a month-long theme dedicated to the older generation called Senior Citizen Month, which was honored for the entire month of May. Then in 1980, it was renamed by President Jimmy Carter as Older Americans Month. Older Americans Month is a month dedicated to celebrating and paying tribute to citizens that are 65 years or older across the nation.
Since President Kennedy’s first proclamation and the Acts that followed, every president has given a proclamation declaring May as the month to honor our older Americans. Each year, the Administration on Aging (AOA) and the Administration of Community Living create a theme for the month. This year’s theme is “Connect, Create, Contribute”.
The theme this year is to remind older adults that they have something to contribute through their skills and talents, which allows them to connect with the community. It also helps emphasize to the younger generation that older adults play a vital role in the health and growth in their lives.
Ways to Celebrate Older Americans Month
To keep in line with the central theme this year, here are some ways to help you “Connect, Create, and Contribute” within your community and lifestyle:
Connect with a Social Network of Friends and Family
The goal of the month is to bring together generations of people to share life experiences. This Older Americans Month, look into one of these activities to expand your social circle and share your life moments:
- Consider getting a pet companion – Shelters are full of pets that need someone to love and care for them. With a pet by your side, you’ll have a good reason to get up and stay motivated throughout the day. If the responsibility of a physical pet is too much, check on a robotic or virtual pet. They will still keep you motivated, without all the responsibility.
- Hire a caregiver – Busy schedules can sometimes prevent friends and family from visiting. A caregiver can help you free up some time while staying safe. Caregivers are licensed professionals that can help you out with daily tasks such as taking meds or incorporating walks and other fitness activities into your daily schedules.
- Find groups of people with common interests. In some communities, there are daily or weekly clubs you can join. Some of them involve physical activities, and some are just a meeting of the minds. These social groups can keep you motivated, active, and social. If you don’t find a group that fits the bill, create your own club or group of people who are as passionate as you are about an activity or topic.
Create and Promote Learning, Health, and Personal Growth
This May, let your imagination flow and creativity shine as you participate in activities that use your skills and talents for Older Americans Month. Below are some ideas of ways you can create:
- Find a part time job – Once you retire, it might be tough to keep yourself busy. Part-time jobs offer a great opportunity to meet new people, stay occupied, and earn a little extra income.
- Take a class – Community centers and community colleges offer many continuing education classes and some even offer discounts for older adults. Learning something new will help keep your brain sharp and skills up to date.
- Learn new technology – As the years pass, more and more tech is created to help make life simpler or to help us do daily tasks. It can be tough to keep up with all the new technology changes, so spend some time this month getting familiar with the tech you use. You can even hire a tech pro to come to your house and help.
Contribute Your Time and Talent to Benefit Others
Helping those in need is beneficial for others and yourself. This Older Americans Month, research ways that you can use your time and talents to help others, including:
- Volunteer – Many organizations and clubs give back to the community. Pick one that you are passionate about and join it. Doing this is one way to keep you active and introduce you to new people.
- Mentor young people – Today, kids are spending more time on social media and looking at screens than interacting face-to-face. A study done by Jean Twenge at San Diego State University proved that this has resulted in higher rates of depression among young people. With your help, we can change this and let these kids know they are not alone. You can share your experiences, talk to them about life or just be a good listener.
However you decide to celebrate Older Americans Month, remember to have fun! There’s no reason why older adults have to fade into the background. In fact, we can still be the life of any party, no matter our age!