May is officially recognized as Older Americans Month (OAM) in the United States. This month-long observance has a rich history dating back to the 1960s and has served as a way to honor and appreciate older Americans for their contributions to society.
What is the History of Older Americans Month?
The roots of Older Americans Month, also sometimes known as older adults month, can be traced back to President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 White House Conference on Aging. The conference addressed the challenges and opportunities facing older Americans, including issues related to retirement, healthcare, and housing. The conference led to the creation of the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965, which provided funding for community-based programs aimed at improving the quality of life for older adults.
In 1963, President Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month, which was later renamed to Older Americans Month by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. The goal of Older Americans Month is to raise awareness about the contributions of older adults and to encourage people of all ages to honor and support them.
What is This Year’s Theme for Older Americans Month?
Each year, the Administration for Community Living (ACL), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, leads the celebration of Older Americans Month by providing resources and support to organizations and communities across the country. The theme for Older Americans Month changes each year to reflect the changing needs and interests of older adults.
Since its inception, OAM has played an important role in highlighting the achievements and contributions of older Americans. The observance has helped to raise awareness about issues affecting older adults and has inspired individuals, organizations, and communities to take action to improve the lives of seniors.
In recent years, OAM has focused on promoting healthy aging, including physical activity, proper nutrition, and mental wellness. The COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored the need to address issues related to social isolation and access to healthcare for older adults. Whereas 2022’s theme was Age My Way, this year’s theme is Aging Unbound, which highlights the importance of paving our own paths as we age.
How Do You Celebrate Older Americans Month?
During Older Americans Month, take time to connect with older adults in your community whether through in-person events, using video chat technology, or social media. You can promote intergenerational connections by reaching out to Senior Centers, libraries, schools, and more. For further inspiration, check out some of our fun activity ideas below.
Older Americans Month Activity Ideas
These activities are a great way to engage older adults, promote social connections, and celebrate the valuable contributions of our older community members – not just during Older Americans Month, but every day of the year.
Everyone has a story to share! Ask older adults in your life to share experiences that have been important in their life. Perhaps about their first job, their favorite vacation, what their childhood was like, or another import life event. You can reach out to schools to have students interview older adults and write short biographies. You can also share these stories on social media with the hashtag, #OlderAmericansMonth.
Host a Wellness Class
Wellness is important at any age. Organize a Tai Chi, yoga, or other wellness class for older adults in your community. These classes are not only a healthy activity but they reduce isolation by bringing people together.
Plan A Music Party
Invite older adults to submit their favorite songs and host a dance party or play the music during a congregate meal. Attendees will enjoy talking about their favorite music and memories associated with different artists.
As we celebrate Older Americans Month, let us take the time to honor the contributions of older adults, to recognize the challenges they face, and to commit to creating communities that support and empower them. Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive society that values the wisdom, experience, and leadership of all generations.
Thank you in joining Age Well in honoring older Americans every May and throughout the year.