By: Gary Woods, SCSEP Manager
May is the month our nation celebrates Older Americans Month (OAM), which is designed to give aging citizens a new voice—one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.
More than ever before, older Americans are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others.
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. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
While we cannot celebrate it, as usual, we still encourage individuals and communities to reflect on the countless contributions that older adults make to our lives and nation. This year’s theme, “Make Your Mark,” highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and strengthen communities.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing, we are reminded of the importance of the SCSEP program to our participants and our communities. We all must come together to support each other, our host agencies, and our participants through these challenging and uncertain times. Let’s amplify the many voices of older Americans and raise awareness of vital aging issues across the country. Be safe, stay prayerful, and take care of yourself and your family!