Strengthen community engaging, connecting with older adults

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May is Older Americans Month

By Wally Pearce, Winters Elder Day Council
Special to the Express

When the Older Americans Month was established nationally in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65 birthday and about a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. In April 1963, between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens designated May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”

The 2022 theme is Age My Way, an opportunity for all of us to explore the many ways older adults can remain in and be involved with their communities:

  • Connect with friends, family, and services that support participation.
  • Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

Other ways to share and connect include:

Look for joy in the everyday: Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them. Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media, call a friend, or family member, to share a happy moment or to say thank you.

Reach out to neighbors: Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a home-cooked meal.

Build new skills: Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community. Have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone, even casually.

Share your story: There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow. Interviewing family, friends, and neighbors can open new conversations and strengthen connections.

Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger. By engaging and supporting all community members, each one of us can recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and daily lives. Everyone benefits when everyone participates.

Strength is built and shown not only by bold acts, but also small ones of day-to-day life—a person to person, or telephone conversation shared with a friend, working in the garden, trying a new recipe, or taking time for a cup of coffee or tea on a busy day. When we share these activities with others—even virtually or by talking about the experience later—we help them build resilience too.

When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and talents share experiences—through action, story, or service—together we help build a stronger community. And that’s something to celebrate. The Winters Elder Day Council encourages you to connect, create, and contribute for a stronger and more diverse community this May, throughout the rest of 2022, and for decades to come. Please join the Winters Elder Day Council in strengthening our community.

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