Who? The older adults in our lives. The month of May was officially designated National Older Americans Month by President John F. Kennedy
History of Older Americans Month 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 pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/04/29/a-proclamation-on-older-americans-month-2022/
Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities. https://acl.gov/oam/2022/oam-2022-activity-ideas
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living
Fun Facts about Seniors in the U.S.
Our senior population (65+) in the U.S. is 55 million* and as a group, would solely populate Oregon, Texas, and Florida based on the reported population of each state (*2020 Census). That's a HUGE number of older Americans.
The State with the highest senior population is Maine.
There are more than 55,000 seniors in the U.S. over age 100, and by 2050 the number of Centenarians is expected to top 600,000. This is roughly the population of Vermont.
More than 10,000 Baby Boomers (1946-1964) turn 65-years-old every day.
Recent studies show that more than half (approx. 27.5 million) of all U.S. seniors are active online.
Older adults aged 85 and up are the fasted growing age group in the U.S.
There are more than 11,400 senior citizen centers across the U.S. that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. The average age of a senior center participant is 75.
Seniors account for 40% of all drug prescriptions (not a fun fact, but worthy of serious discussion).
More than 15 million older adults are formally recognized volunteers. Nearly half of all seniors volunteer in some capacity.
Studies show that physical activity can slow the elder aging process.
Three significant benefits of social connection for seniors include: A sense of purpose. Increased self-worth. Better physical and mental health
Take some quality time this month to celebrate the older adults in your life. Here are a few "I'm so glad you're part of my life" appreciation ideas:
A phone call or in-person visit without a time limit. Make the visit all about them and what they've been doing or are planning to do. (Put your phone away and listen with intent.)
A card (mailed or hand delivered) with a handwritten message telling them how much they mean to you. A handwritten letter is also a wonderful way to show appreciation.
Lunch or dinner out or brought-in. Another idea, prepare a hearty meal together, then freeze portions for later meals (yummy!).
Shopping trip--they decide where they'd like to go, you provide the companionship and transportation.
Housecleaning. A thorough spring clean, what a wonderful gift.
Car washing/detailing. Oil change or tune-up. How about a tank of gas?
Running general errands together.
Yard work and garden tending.
Getting outdoor areas ready for enjoying warm weather.
And don't forget to HOLD HANDS and GIVE HUGS--human touch means so much!
God bless the older adults in our lives, they are so important.
Photo Credit: filipp-romanovski via Unsplash