Each May for the past 55 years, our nation has observed Older Americans Month. Meant to celebrate and recognize the role and contributions of older adults in our communities, the observance stemmed from the 1965 passing of the Older Americans Act; providing positive change, financial assistance, and federal support for our senior citizens. Today, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of the month. The theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark.”
The Administration for Community Living explains that:
“This theme was selected to encourage and celebrate countless contributions that older adults make to our communities. Their time, experience and talents benefit family, peers and neighbors every day. Communities, organizations and individuals of all ages are also making their marks. This year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities.”
Ways to Observe Older Americans Month and Make Your Mark in 2020
Older Americans make their marks on our communities each day by working, volunteering, parenting, grand-parenting and sharing their talents and knowledge with those around them. Yet, every one of us can make a difference in their lives by using our own time and talents to uplift them and the caregivers who support them.
Taking place this year during such a delicate time for the entire world, during the COVID-19 outbreak, below are some ways that we can still observe this month and support the older adults who need us now more than ever:
Sharing stories with loved ones about an older adult who made an impact on your life is a great way to uplift our seniors. You can also ask an older adult to share their own stories, advice and answers to questions that you may have. You are likely to learn something new.
There are several ways in which we can connect online with our older adults in today’s age. With senior computer and phone use on the rise, this is becoming easier than ever before. There are several video-calling apps available for use such as FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom. If you know someone in a senior living community who may encounter difficulties making calls, reach out to the staff to arrange a call. Some facilities even have volunteer programs in which you can speak to a senior and offer them companionship via phone or mail for those without access to technology.
Many video calling platforms include screen-sharing features in which you can share photos, news, videos and much more without ever meeting each other physically. There are even websites like Google Arts & Culture in which you can visit museums from around the world from the comfort of your home.
Donate… to healthcare workers and nonprofits supporting older adults
If you are able to donate time, money or supplies to an organization supporting older adults or healthcare workers, this is a great way to observe OAM. Whether it be lunch for the staff, cards with message of support, or a donation of personal protective equipment — these gestures boost morale and show the community’s members that we are united an the effort to uplift them.
Remember, everyone has an opportunity to make their mark this Older Americans Month in big and small ways. No act is too small, no story is too inferior — so let’s share with one another!