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Older American's Month

May is “Older Americans Month”.  Recognition of the celebration started in 1963.  At that time there were 17 million Americans 65 and older.  Now, 58 million Americans are 65 or older. 


Somewhere along the way I joined the club.  As I shared with my wife, if we are involved in an automobile accident, the headline on the news will include in part “Elderly couple……”


It is so easy to put people into categories.  Doesn’t that make it easy to judge them?  To arrange our expectations?  To limit our expectations of “those people”?  It sure was more palatable when I was not one of them.


Recently I had a couple come to see me—both in their 90s.  My prejudgment was shattered ten minutes into our conversation:  they were both sharp as a tack.  The worksheet, facts and figures were clear, organized and unambiguous.  They just want to arrange their affairs so they would not be a burden on their children. 


One of the best joys in my practice is getting to visit with older Americans.  It has taught me to take time to listen and I have become enriched because of it.


Two days before I drafted this article, I was standing in a long checkout line at the grocery store.  The older gentleman in front of me started a conversation.  I learned he had been involved in building a lake (Cedar Bluff), how the flooding caught everyone by surprise, and how some equipment was trapped in the lake because of the sudden flooding (and that equipment is still at the bottom to this day).  I learned all that because I listened. 


I hope you will take time to reach out to an older American.  Take time to get their advice, their wisdom.  Take time to include them. 


As detailed by the Administration for Community Living, the 2024 theme of Older Americans Month is Powered by Connection, which recognizes the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on our health and well-being.

The Administration for Community Living you can participate by doing the following:

  • “Share facts about the mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of social connection and how it contributes to overall well-being.

  • Promote resources that help older adults engage, like community events, social clubs, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Connect older adults with local services, such as transportation, that can help them overcome obstacles to achieving or maintaining meaningful relationships.

  • Encourage partners to host a connection-centric event or program focused on older adult mentors to youth, peer-to-peer support, or similar efforts.

  • Challenge professional and personal networks to prioritize meaningful social connections and share the benefits.”

I do see progress and proactivity in our community. Our church monitors when someone stops showing up to services. Sometimes the church shows them how to log in to the online church services.  Members go to homes for visitations or communion. 

I see older Americans taking a much larger role as volunteers, whether that is school reading programs or services clubs in the community.  The opportunities are there.

There are opportunities to reach out to older Americans.  Maybe it is your neighbor, or someone you used to work with.  Maybe it is someone new to town that you could take to coffee. 

Let me share what some of us from our office did.  We participated as bartenders in a celebration “What Happen in Las Vegas”, held at a local long term care facility.  We took a moment to visit with those residents that attended and watched them “gamble” in celebration.  We went away richer for that experience.  I hope those older Americans now know how much they are appreciated.


Help celebrate Older Americans Month. I challenge you to reach out to an older American.


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