As May comes to a close, we are saying goodbye to Older Americans Month (OAM), or at least until it comes around next May. The thing is though, just because this time of recognition is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean that it has to come to a stop. Showing our appreciation for seniors is a way to pay tribute to those that have shaped our community and that have paved a path for the way that we might start to shape our future.
This month is dedicated to recognizing and appreciating older Americans and highlighting their accomplishments and what they mean to their communities and those that they touch day-to-day. This month has evolved since it was started in 1963 and has transitioned from being called Senior Citizens Month to Older Americans Month to include all of those of a certain age and what they mean to us.
It’s important to learn more about this time of recognition, why it exists, and what to expect as it continues to evolve.
Every Year, It’s a New Theme
Each year, Older Americans Month embraces a specific theme to shed light on various aspects of aging. Themes such as “Connect, Create, Contribute” and “Communities of Strength” encourage older adults to remain engaged, share their experiences, and inspire others. The 2022 theme, “Age My Way,” emphasizes the importance of older Americans planning to live independently in their own homes and communities. Each year’s theme represents something and encourages active participation from seniors and their loved ones. The very first theme of Older Americans Month in 1963 was “The Designation” which signified the start of this annual tradition marking May as the month designated to celebrating older Americans.
Recognizing This Journey of Appreciation
As we celebrate Older Americans Month, let us recognize the importance of older adults and the impact they’ve made on our society. Through their stories, experiences, and resilience, they enrich our communities and actually shape our future. This month should serve as a reminder to cherish and involve older Americans, and express our appreciation, respect, and urge for more intergenerational learning.
Older Americans Month helps combat ageism and negative stereotypes associated with aging. It promotes a more inclusive and age-friendly society that recognizes the diverse talents and experiences of people of all ages. Additionally, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing the needs and well-being of older adults. It draws attention to issues such as healthcare and social support.
Taking the Chance to Combat Ageism
Seniors have a significant role to play in combating ageism and promoting a more inclusive society and those around them have just as much of a chance to help with this as well. Some specific things can be done to challenge ageism and make a positive impact:
Engage in Active Aging
Seniors can actively participate in various activities that showcase their abilities, talents, and interests. By staying physically active, pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or engaging in community initiatives, older adults can defy stereotypes and demonstrate their vitality and continued contribution to society while maintaining their independence as well.
Share Knowledge and Experience
Older adults possess a wealth of knowledge and life experiences. They can combat ageism by sharing their wisdom and insights with younger generations. Whether through mentoring programs or sharing their story while writing a memoir, seniors can help bridge the generation gap and foster understanding and enhance the respect that younger generations have for each other.
Be Advocates for Change
Seniors can become advocates for policies and initiatives that address ageism and promote equal rights and opportunities for all age groups. By joining advocacy groups, supporting age-friendly initiatives, and raising awareness about age-related discrimination, older adults can help drive systemic change and create a more age-inclusive society.
Start Embracing Technology More
Seniors can embrace technology and digital platforms to challenge ageist stereotypes. By actively participating in social media, learning new digital skills, or utilizing online platforms for communication and collaboration, older adults can demonstrate their adaptability and dispel misconceptions about their technological abilities and it might shock you to realize that more seniors are online than ever.
What They’ve Done for Us and What We Can Do for Them
By taking these proactive steps, seniors can contribute to dismantling ageism and creating a society that values and respects individuals of all ages. Their actions serve as powerful examples, inspiring others to embrace intergenerational collaboration, challenge stereotypes, and build a more inclusive future for everyone…all while we celebrate them.