We can honor and celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) every May. This particular month acknowledges the valuable contributions and sacrifices made by older adults. The theme for 2024 is “Powered by Connections,” emphasizing the importance of meaningful relationships and social connections for our overall health and well-being.

When we think of “Older Americans,” the traditional image of grandparents surrounded by their children and grandchildren may come to mind. However, not all older adults fit this stereotype. Around 20 percent of baby boomers do not have children, and many older Americans do not have family nearby for support due to living in different cities or states. These individuals are known as Solo Agers.

 

What is Older Americans Month?

The history of Older Americans Month dates back to 1963 when President John F. Kennedy met with the National Council of Senior Citizens to discuss the growing needs of older adults. At that time, approximately 17 million older adults lived in the country, with one-third of them facing poverty. The U.S. faced challenges in providing enough resources to support programs for this population.

As a result, President Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month to bring attention to their challenges. Two years later, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act, recognizing the valuable contributions of older Americans to society. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter renamed it Older Americans Month to emphasize that older adults are active and involved members of society who continue to impact their communities positively.

May is the designated month for a few reasons. It follows winter, a time when older adults may feel more isolated and in need of support. Additionally, May includes holidays such as Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, providing opportunities for families and communities to come together and celebrate.

 

Supporting Solo Agers

One great thing about this month is that it reminds us to think about the older Americans who may not have the same support system many of us are lucky to have.

It’s important to remember that aging is a normal part of life. OAM helps us recognize and support those facing challenges alone. Solo Agers, in particular, can benefit from more social interaction and support.

Solo aging and lack of support are frequently associated with a reduction in independence, which may lead to feelings of depression and negatively impact the health of older adults. Studies indicate that 27% of adults over the age of 60 live alone, and these individuals have a 38% higher likelihood of experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression. This heightened state of anxiety can potentially harm their physical well-being.

 

Fight Anxiety through Positivity and Social Interaction

Encouraging positivity and social interaction can significantly impact mental and physical well-being. Studies have indicated that maintaining a positive outlook on aging can result in various health benefits. Older adults who approach aging optimistically often enjoy increased activity levels, better sleep quality, and lower rates of depression and loneliness. This mindset can also reduce the risk of heart disease, chronic illnesses, and depression, boost the immune system, and aid in managing stress.

Surrounding yourself with positive individuals is key to maintaining a positive attitude. Spending time with those who uplift and support you can make a big difference in your overall well-being. If you could benefit from more positivity in your social circle, consider seeking support networks, such as companionship services. Companions can provide kind and supportive companionship, fostering a positive and uplifting environment for you. Engaging with these services may help you cultivate a more positive and supportive social network.

 

Build More Social Connections

During Older Americans Month, focusing on building more social connections and positively embracing the aging process is encouraged. Maintaining solid relationships with family and friends can give us a sense of purpose and belonging as we age. Getting involved in our communities and staying connected to others can help us develop solid communities and find joy in aging.

Many strategies can help us stay active and engaged as we age, such as trying new hobbies, volunteering, or seeking educational opportunities. These activities can also be great ways to broaden our network of connections.

Staying physically active as we age is important to taking advantage of new social opportunities. It is advisable to consult with your doctor about starting a regular exercise program to maintain your physical health.

Technology can also be a valuable tool for older adults to stay connected and engaged. Many now utilize social media and other digital tools to keep in touch with loved ones and access information and resources online, mainly if they are isolated or living far away from family and friends.

 

OAM is an Opportunity to Impact Someone’s Life Positively

As we recognize Older Americans Month this May, let’s take a moment to consider our aging community, particularly those who may be aging alone.

If you wish to make a difference in someone’s life, consider reaching out to someone in your social circle who may feel lonely or isolated. A simple gesture like inviting them for lunch can significantly impact their lives and yours. Many individuals volunteer their time at senior centers or facilities to provide companionship and social interaction to older adults who may be alone. This gesture of kindness can truly make a difference in their lives.

Celebrating Older Americans Month involves challenging negative stereotypes about aging and promoting a more positive attitude toward growing older. For Solo Agers, it means forming and participating in strong and supportive social networks that respect the experiences and perspectives of all members, regardless of age.

 

The Maxim at Home team is here to help.

Do you need help with a loved one?  Then consider Maxim at Home’s homemaker and companionship services. Our team of friendly, compassionate Companions takes great pride in serving people in their community who need light assistance with daily chores, some company and conversation, or convenient transportation for errands, appointments, or trips to the store.

Explore our services to learn more about our:

  • Homemaker and companionship services
  • Easy-to-use scheduling platform
  • “Best Value” service pricing
  • Only 1-hour service minimum

 

Sign up in seconds to enjoy free 24-hour access to our on-demand scheduling platform, where you can view our team of vetted compassionate companions.

 

If you have questions about our services, please call 1-844-624-5646 to speak to one of our caring service Advisors.


Resource Links:

Aging successfully in the Brazos Valley

www.vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/aging-successfully-in-the-brazos-valley/

Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging

www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12150226/

Perspectives of Older Adults on Aging Well: A Focus Group Study

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6247475/

Loneliness, depression and sociability in old age

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016701/

Older Adults Living Alone Report Higher Rates of Anxiety and Depression

www.healthpolicy.usc.edu/evidence-base/older-adults-living-alone-report-higher-rates-of-anxiety-and-depression/

Older Americans Month 2024

https://acl.gov/oam/2024/older-americans-month-2024