Every May, Older Americans Month is celebrated. It is sad to note that nowadays, only a handful of people reach past the age of 65. As a matter of fact, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday when the Older Americans’ Month was established way back in 1963.
Historically, Older Americans’ Month was used to acknowledge the contributions of past and current people who were known to have defended the country. It was only until President Kennedy in 1963 extended the tribute to the older people in their communities. President Ford in 1976 reinforced the essence of celebrating Older Americans’ Month, saying that “Among our nation’s most precious natural resources are the collective wisdom and experience of our older citizens.”
Why do we need to celebrate Older Americans’ Month? Aside from formally acknowledging them and highlighting their contributions to the community, this emphasizes their spirit and wisdom that helped shape every young person’s ideals. Aside from that, our senior citizens should be given reaffirmation that they have the opportunity to age with dignity – thus, serving to raise awareness and shed light on elder abuse and neglect.
Wisdom comes with age and experience, and even inside our homes, we would love to listen to our grandparents at some point for their stories of successes and failures, as well as joys and pains. These are the stories that inspire and support others, stories that unquestionably display strength and resilience. Aging was often regarded negatively, but the endurance that older people display despite evolving times is a testament to wealth and insight that young ones do not have.
And communities that bank on the strength and wisdom of the older generation are stronger. This 2021 celebration bears the theme “Communities of Strength,” implying the power of connection and engagement as the most important tool in building strong communities.
The pandemic has deprived everyone – including our senior citizens – the joy of being physically knit with families. Our elderly with comorbidities suffered the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with older adults (particularly those from communities of color) comprising the majority of COVID-19 related deaths. Those who have survived face the challenge of surviving extreme social isolation, a vital factor that is key for our elderly to thrive. But older Americans still stepped up to extend support to their families, friends, and neighbors, going to the extent of being part of the workforce as essential workers and volunteers. Their opinions and viewpoints have become valuable as they appear to have the greatest awareness of serving their communities.
Our elderly are perhaps the warmest and lovable people in the community. Add to that; they enthusiastically lend a hand should you need it the most. Extend your love to our seniors today!