First established in May of 1963, Older Americans Month is the opportunity to bring national recognition not only to the contributions of older Americans, but to raise awareness about the health and wellness issues they faced in our country.
Each year the Administration for Community Living designates a theme for the month of May that highlights the month in honor of our seniors. This year’s theme is Make Your Mark.
According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 16 percent of the total population in 2018 to 23 percent by 2060. Around the nation, older adults make their marks every day as volunteers, employees, employers, parents, grandparents, mentors, and advocates. They offer their time, talents, and experience to the benefit of our communities. This year’s theme, Make Your Mark, takes on a different meaning as we face the outbreak of COVID-19.
Many older adults and their caregivers are facing social isolation due to sheltering-in-place, or may be struggling with food insecurity, chronic diseases, or mental health issues. According to the ACL, “this year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities."
Agencies within Northeast Florida are making their mark by working tirelessly to bring resources and support to our older adults, their families and their caregivers in the wake of COVID-19.
For example, virtual educational workshops, online support groups,
and resources are helping people stay connected. Agencies like ElderSource and Aging True Senior Services are working together to bring nutrition and meal assistance to homebound and low-income seniors. Baptist AgeWell is connecting older adults with doctors in face-to-face or telephone-based appointments in order to maintain their health and safety. These examples are only a portion of what’s being done to stand behind and support seniors in our community.
How else can you make a difference as an older adult or in support of older adults? In the spirit of this year’s theme, here are a few ways to share your story and make your mark this May and all year long:
Share your story. As an older adult or the caregiver of one, sharing your story or that of your loved one can heal and inspire. Here’s a few prompts to get started:
What would you like to tell your 22-year-old self?
What do you think your 22-year-old-self would want to tell you?
What are the best and worst pieces of advice you’ve received?
What’s your hidden talent?
What are you most proud of?
What do you wish the world knew about you?
Was there a time when an older adult helped you feel strong in a tough time?
What does it mean to be a caregiver? What did you learn from the experience?
Use video chat technology to hold a storytelling party. Select a theme or question from the list, and each person gets five minutes to tell a story that relates to that theme.
Interview a relative—record the call or take notes and write up the story they tell you.
Draw a picture that answers one of the above questions or captures a favorite day or memory.
Keep a journal of stories to share with friends or family when you can get together again.
Write a letter to a friend or relative and tell them what you love about them.
Pick a song that means a lot to you and sing it to someone. Tell the person why you chose it.
Call a relative and tell them you have a story to tell. Set up a time that works for both of you so you can be relaxed and focused.
Read a favorite book, poem, or passage to loved one by video chat or phone. If by phone, describe the pictures as well as reading the words. Tell them why you chose that story.