May is National Older Americans Month, a time to honor the achievements of older adults in our country. This year’s theme is “Aging Unbound,” which offers an opportunity to explore diverse experiences without being boxed in by expectations or stereotypes. Older Americans have played a significant role in shaping our country’s history and continue contributing to various fields such as healthcare, education, politics, and arts.
This celebration began in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging Americans to pay tribute to older people nationwide. Almost two decades later, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed the name to Older Americans Month. Since then, every president has proclaimed to use this time to give seniors their flowers.
Why Celebrating Older Americans Is Important
According to the United States Census Bureau, by 2034, there will be more people over the age of 65 than children under 18 in the United States. The aging population presents significant challenges and opportunities for our society. Many older Americans play an essential role in our economy and continue to work and contribute to the workforce. As the saying goes, with age comes wisdom; these citizens bring a surplus of experience to their job fields. Also, their experience and knowledge must be passed on to the next generation of leaders that will replace them. Celebrating these men and women connects the older and younger generations and promotes social connections. Reducing isolation and loneliness among older adults.
The Health of Older Americans
Older Americans face unique challenges related to their health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults are at a higher risk for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of older adults to infectious diseases and the importance of protecting their health.
National Older Americans Month is a chance to advocate for policies and programs that support wellness for older adults. This could include access to healthcare or safe and affordable housing.
This year’s theme for National Older Americans Month is Aging Unbound. The theme hopes to encourage older adults to pursue new interests, take risks, and live their lives to the fullest. Even if the activities they try don’t seem “normal” for their age, it’s about breaking free from those stereotypes and truly seeking adventure.
National Older Americans Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate older adults’ contributions to our communities. It is a time to advocate for policies and programs that support their health and well-being. As our population ages, celebrating and supporting these pillars of our society by recognizing the value they provide is more important than ever.