Older adults in our community are at risk of feeling isolated, marginalized, and forgotten.
In the month of May, to help raise awareness of the struggles that the older generation may experience, Older Americans Month is run and promoted by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). Once known as Senior Citizens Month, it has been around for almost 60 years. This year, Older Americans Month focuses on promoting the older generation's ability to have a say in how they age.
Subsequently, this year's theme, 'Age My Way,' is framing all the activity ideas the ACL is championing. Read on to find out more about why Older Americans Month is so crucial.
OAM was established to tackle issues that many of our older community members experience first-hand. Additionally, it also helps ensure that the Older Americans Act is adhered to so our seniors can have confidence in their later years that their community will support them.
Importantly, though, it also focuses on the contributions of older adults and how the older individuals in our communities have helped enrich our society. OAM encourages us all to engage with the older generation so we can continue to learn from their talents and their experiences.
There are so many difficulties that the older generation has to grapple with these days. Older Americans Month is vital to help raise awareness of those problems.
For instance, did you know that 10% of Americans over 65 suffer from or have suffered from elder abuse? Plus, the caregivers that support the elderly are overworked and spread thinly - a problem that only looks to worsen with a projected national shortage of 151,000 caregivers by 2030. Older Americans Month seeks to reduce those issues by raising awareness of these problems but also by empowering communities to make a change.
Older Americans Month looks to build communities of strength upon which the older generation can rely. One where they are not plagued by a lack of funds meaning they cannot access the help they need to deal with their disabilities. Instead, strong communities support senior citizens to live their lives how they want to live them - independent and autonomous for as long as feasibly possible. Ensuring the nation’s focus is on our seniors helps shine a light on what we can all be doing better to help our elders live a more self-sufficient life. Importantly, we can help make those changes far before the need for long-term care.
Older Americans Month also ensures that younger generations look ahead and plan for their own future. By raising awareness of the troubles that older generations face concerning their well-being, the scheme highlights the need for people to address how they will live and cope when they get old. For example, it could make younger individuals question what they would do if they developed Alzheimer's. Or what their wants are regarding vaccines should there be another pandemic in the future.
All of this is done under the umbrella of celebrating what older adults across the country have given us and how we can help them as they once helped us by shaping the world we live in.
Getting involved to make your mark on this year’s OAM is easy. You can volunteer in countless local schemes or get into the act at one of your local senior centers. Participating in the month can make so much difference, even if it is just by helping one older person who has been struggling to engage with society and has been feeling isolated for a long time now.
If you want to help raise awareness for Older Americans Month, you can share your photos and experiences on social media with the hashtag #olderamericansmonth. You can also find out more about the scheme at acl.gov.