May is Older Americans Month

By: Tanya Kramer

This month was established to honor and acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons in our country. 

Older Americans Month (initially called Senior Citizen’s Month) was established after a meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and the members of the National Council of Senior Citizens. 

This time of recognition has transitioned from acknowledging older persons while also recommitting to our work to empower older adults, which allows them to live a life of quality which in some cases means supporting their ability to be independent

The 2023 theme for this year is “Aging Unbound” which offers an opportunity to explore diverse aging experiences and discuss how communities can combat stereotypes. 

When thinking about how to engage with an older American in celebration of this month, take into consideration their interest(s) and give them an experience that they have been wanting but maybe have not made time for themself to enjoy. 

You could also set up to meet with them to ask them questions about their life and see if they are open to being audio or video recorded.

I have a precious audio tape of my grandmother, who passed away over 25 years ago and a videotape of my mom and dad (my dad passed away in 2015). 

These opportunities taught me about their history and what they experienced in their lives, which was very humbling.

Another honoring approach is to bring the party or activity to them if they have physical or medical limitations. 

If someone used to love to travel, then set time aside to watch a documentary about a specific country, read books about it together, and consider making food that represents that country. 

The most important thing you can do is spend quality time with the older adults in your life as they are wise, and this is precious time.

For older adults who want to engage in life in a new way, volunteering can be both beneficial for your mental and physical health. It is also a way to support others who might have limitations. Article Source

11 Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults

  1. Senior corps (adults ages 55 or older) – includes opportunities such as visiting other older adults or mentoring students.
  2. Local or national charities – Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, Alzheimer’s Association, etc.
  3. Local, state, and national parks – invasive plant removal, tour guide, camp host, along with other options depending on location.
  4. Food delivery services – Meals on Wheels or local nonprofits.
  5. Animal shelters – giving love and attention to animals so they can increase their chance of being adopted
  6. Foster grandparent programs – a meaningful opportunity to connect and support children in need in your area.
  7. Community gardens – teaching, maintaining, sharing resources, and the benefit of a bountiful harvest to share with others.
  8. Local school support and training – local schools often are looking for extra support in class, during activities, lunchtime, or chaperoning trips
  9. Mentoring or training young professionals – such as Big and Mini or Career Village who match older adults with young adults who have similar interests, hobbies, or professional aspirations in person or online.
  10. Ideas for older adults with low mobility – participate in GetSetUp which is a platform that provides educational courses led by volunteers which benefit those with low mobility

Providing companionship at your local hospice agency – companionship, creating comfort items, clerical support, welcoming visitors, etc.