Each May, the Administration for Community Living leads the celebration of Older Americans Month.
This year’s theme is Communities of Strength, recognizing the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty, and there were few programs to meet their needs.
Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country.
Every president since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pays tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.
Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
Older adults have built resilience and strength over their lives through successes, failures, joys, and difficulties. Their stories and contributions help to support and inspire others.
This OAM places special emphasis on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities.
Here are some ways to share and connect:
Look for joy in the everyday – Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them.
Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media, or call a friend or family member to share a happy moment or to say thank you.
Reach out to neighbors – Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors.
Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a home-cooked meal.
Build new skills – Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community.
Have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone, even casually.
Share your story – There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow.
Interviewing family, friends, and neighbors can open up new conversations and strengthen our connections.
For more resources, visit the official OAM website at acl.gov/oam/2021/older-americans-month-2021.