May Is Older Americans Month

Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? It’s not one of the best known celebrating holidays, which unfortunately, is on brand for older Americans who tend to not get as much recognition as other demographics. So this month, we celebrate Older Americans, and tell you all you need to know about Older Americans Month.

When Was Older Americans Month Established?

Seniors Laughing on Beach for Older Americans MonthJohn F. Kennedy established May as Older Americans Month in 1963, although he called it “Senior Citizens Month.” At the time the number of older Americans was about a quarter of today’s over-65 population – only 17 million. But of those 17 million people, nearly a 1/3 of them lived below the poverty line. The month was established to bring attention to them, their contributions, and the services they needed.

Since JFK every president has asked citizens to acknowledge their fellow Americans in May, often using it to honor older Americans who served the country. In 1980, Jimmy Carter updated the name of the celebration to Older Americans month.

Older American Month Theme

For most of Older Americans Month’s history,  each year, the month has been given a theme by the Administration for Community Living (formerly the Administration on Aging). The theme is used to showcase a particular area of service or accomplishment for older Americans.

Some notable themes include: Older Americans and the family (1978), Caregiving: Compassion in Action (1997) , America: A Community for All Ages (2002, Never Too Old to Play (2022) and Age My Way (2022). This year’s theme is Powered By Connection.

Powered By Connection

Older Americans Month this year is dedicated to the impact of relationships and social connections. Meaningful connection is what makes life worthwhile, so helping those who are disenfranchised, like older Americans connect with others is the difference between whether they can have enjoyable lives.

Social connection also positively impacts health as we age. But as getting older often means losing touch with others we’ve known as you become among the oldest people you know.

This year the ACL wants to encourage people to reach out to older people in their communities and promote events that bring communities members of all ages and demographics together. It’s also focusing on making those connections more possible and accessible to the community members that Older Americans Month celebrates.

How Can You Help?

There are many ways that you can help older Americans in your community. As with so many things, the best places to start are close to home!

If you have older relatives, stay in touch with them, and visit if you can. Or check in on the older people in your neighborhood. Sharing interests can go a long way.

Get to know the older people in your life and see if they’re getting everything they need. Some of the most prevalent unmet needs are access to the very things that provide connection.

When people have trouble getting around, either because of accessibility issues, money, or lack of transportation, they can miss out on a lot.

For ADL’s part, we help people age in place by making their homes more accessible in Roanoke and the surrounding areas. Stairlifts and other options can help make home safer but it takes a community to provide meaningful connection!