Every May, the Administration on Aging, part of the Administration for Community Living, leads our nation’s observance of Older American’s Month. The 2018 theme, Engage at Every Age, emphasizes that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It also celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in our communities.
Participating in activities that promote mental and physical wellness, offering your wisdom and experience to the next generation, seeking the mentorship of someone with more life experience than you—those are just a few examples of what being engaged can mean. No matter where you are in your life, there is no better time than now to start. We hope you will join in and Engage at Every Age!
Take the Selfie Challenge!
Older Americans Month is a great time to show the world you are never too old (or too young) to enrich your life and your community. This year, we want to see how you stay engaged so that you can help inspire others to do the same. Snap a selfie or have someone take your picture participating in activities that improve your mental and physical well-being. Then, post your image to social media using the hashtag #OAM18. Encourage your peers to do the same and you might just gain a little inspiration from others. No matter where you are in your life, there is no better time than now to start engaging in yourself and the world around you.
Here are several ways to celebrate this year’s theme, Engage at Every Age, through stories.
- Interview community members who exemplify what it means to Engage at Every Age. Try for a mix of individuals, such as older public servants, elder rights advocates, back-to-schoolers, or people trying new careers. Everyone has a story. Interviews can be shared as written pieces or videos.
- Arrange for older adults to share or read stories. Call a community or senior center about a joint effort—perhaps they’d like older adults to share their skills or experience in a workshop. Alternatively, see if a local school would like to host a “Senior Day” where older adults speak to students. Or, contact libraries about older adults reading to young children.
- Arrange for local school students to interview residents of a retirement community, assisted living community, or nursing home, and write a short biography. Plan a program for the residents and other members of the community at which the students read aloud their stories. Invite your local newspaper, local blogger, or radio station to attend.
- Ask your social media followers to share their wisdom, tips, and stories online—either using a unique hashtag or by posting to a page or forum you manage. If you take this approach, be sure to provide guidance, such as length or word limits, what you’d most like to hear, and a contact person for questions.
A community event is a terrific way to celebrate and educate. There are countless approaches to an activity like this, so here are a few ideas to get you started. We also have a few Event Tips to help with planning.
*TIP: Engage partners in your planning. Faith-based organizations and community groups are a great place to start as they are important gateways to the community. A local place of worship or recreation center may want to help to host an event and engage seniors in the community.
Celebratory Event: Invite community members to a special event celebrating Older Americans Month. This could be a sit-down meal, a networking gathering, or a special program like storytelling. Invite a leader or similar keynote speaker from your community to give remarks. If you plan activities that will result in proceeds (e.g., raffle), think about donating the funds to a local charity or program that supports older adults. No matter the format, be sure to promote the work of individuals, agencies, and organizations that support older adults in your area. This is not only nice for those recognized but it lets others know about available resources.
Volunteer Event: Plan a day or half-day gathering for older adults who want to give back. There are numerous options for activities, from picking up litter or gardening in public areas to collecting clothing and food donations for those in need. Need ideas? Check out these Create the Good Project Ideas. If resources are available, you could even create matching volunteer t-shirts that say “Engage at Every Age!” This creates a sense of unity and raises awareness among those who see your group volunteering.
Educational Event: Coordinate a resource fair, class, workshop, or lecture on one of the many topics covered by this year’s theme. You could center the gathering on maintaining health and independence with a class on balance and strength or consider teaching a group or community members about finding local resources, engaging through technology, or starting a new career or hobby.