Originally called, “Senior Citizens Month,” President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens designated the month of May as Older Americans Month. Since then, May has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of older members of our society, both past and present, and how they shape our communities. Older veterans are particularly honored during Older Americans Month as a way to commemorate their sacrifices.
Older Americans Month 2016 has a unique theme this year, which is “Blaze a Trail.” As a community of caregivers, we witness every day the trails our senior citizens are blazing, whether it is on a small scale with their friends and families, or on a larger scale within their communities and even the nation. One of the roles of home care services is to honor the contributions seniors are making and to help them preserve this part of their identities.
How You Can Celebrate Older Americans Month
The Administration for Community Living is leveraging Older Americans Month as a way to raise awareness about important issues facing older adults. Promoting Older Americans Month is one of the many ways you can celebrate and acknowledge Older Americans Month and the value senior citizens bring to our communities. Other ways to celebrate include:
Ask your older loved ones or people who are in your care about a contribution they feel they have made. Some of our seniors truly are, or have been, trailblazers but these stories don’t always get told unless we prompt them to share their experiences. Sharing stories is a great way to make people feel cared for and appreciated. It also provides quality time for bonding and emotional connection, which is paramount for preserving mental and emotional well-being.
Looking Through Photo Albums
A trip down memory way is a great way to celebrate Older Americans Month. Family photos are often reminders of a proud heritage and can produce feelings of nostalgia and happiness. Photos tell the stories of places in time and are good reminders about the things we have accomplished in our lives. Seeing oneself in photographs provides a sense of representation and preserves self-identity, both of which can become fragile as we grow older.
Engaging in the Community
Celebrating Older Americans Month with other seniors can help provide a sense of belonging and community involvement. Gathering with others during a time of celebration creates a festive atmosphere. Activities, games, and social functions will also provide a way to actively participate and contribute to Older Americans Month. Celebrating with other seniors can be as simple as getting together for tea or meeting up at a community center, such as a local library.
Connecting Through Social Media
The Administration for Community Living is using #OAM16 as a way to connect people celebrating Older Americans Month on social media. Post a photo, write a story, or share a relevant article and include #OAM16 so that other people who are celebrating can find your social media post.
We appreciate the senior members of our society, especially as caregivers who work with seniors every day. We witness some of their most vulnerable and emotional moments and know the profound effects they’ve had on the lives of their loved ones. During May, make it a point to give back to the older Americans who have given so much to you.