“With age, art and life become one.” Georges Braque, 20th Century painter
What is Older Americans Month?
It is said that it’s important to honor and respect our elders. Honoring older adults is just as important, which is why Older Americans Month, celebrated in May, is very special. Older Americans Month is all about acknowledging the contributions of America’s older adults.
Older Americans Month was established in 1963, when 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthday. At that time, approximately one-third of older Americans lived in poverty, and there were hardly any programs to help them.
In April 1963, President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens formed a meeting, designating May as Senior Citizens Month, now referred to as Older Americans Month. Medicare – a federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and some younger people with disabilities – is a direct result of this action.
Initially, Older Americans Month was created to appreciate older adults in the past and present for their contributions to America, mainly those who fought for our country. According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), each Older Americans Month since 1978 has had a different theme, from Older Americans and the Family in 1978 to Aging Unbound in 2023.
Why It’s Important
Older Americans Month is important because it reminds us to appreciate the older adults who made, and continue to make, contributions to America. It reminds us to honor them for their deeds.
It is also a time for older Americans and younger generations to gather together, and provides a dedicated time to learn from each other. This year’s theme is Aging Unbound, which is about delving into a variety of aging experiences and discussing how communities can overcome stereotypes.
There are also plenty of important facts about older adults. For example, more than 53% of Americans ages 65 and up routinely use technology like smartphones and are regularly online.
According to the ACL, people ages 85 and older are estimated to triple from 6.6 million in 2019 to 14.4 million in 2040. Older adults report that they regularly get good night’s sleep, and 9 in 10 say they manage their stress well.
How We Celebrate
There are many ways we can celebrate Older Americans Month. Some of them are hosting workshops, musical events, and letting mature adults take the lead.
We at the 14Y are thrilled to be working with Educational Alliance Older Adult programs on the second annual CelebratEArts Festival, a monthlong celebration of the creative contributions of our community of Older Adults. Please join us for the many no-cost or low-cost craft sales, performances, and more – with all proceeds going to older adult programs.
Special Older Adults
There are many famous Older Adults to admire, and a few that come to mind are author Laura Ingalls Wilder, who published the Little House on the Prairie series when she was 64. Another is actor William Shatner, who donated a kidney stone for $25,000, then gave the proceeds to a housing charity. He also starred in a very funny one-man show about his life and career.
There are also many special older adults from my life. One of them is Brian, aka Bossman, a witty friend from camp. Two others are my late grandparents, who took part in World War II. I have volunteered with older adult communities, and learned a lot.
Older adults are special and unique, just like other people. Older Americans Month is wonderful time to remember and act upon that.