By Stephanie Wheeler
For Senior Voice 

Older Americans Month: In celebration of seniors everywhere

 

May 1, 2024 | View PDF



Older Americans Month is an annual celebration that serves as a platform to honor and appreciate the vital contributions that older persons play in our communities and in our society as a whole. Established in 1963, Older Americans Month is celebrated every May. It is also an opportunity to highlight aging trends and reaffirm commitments to serving the older adults in our communities.

The federal agency, the Administration for Community Living (ACL), typically provides us with an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Powered by Community,” which focuses on the profound impact that meaningful connections have on the safety, well-being and health of older adults. Meaningful connections is also one of the strongest predictors of health and happiness as we age.

It's not just about having someone to chat with, it’s about the transformative potential of community engagement in enhancing mental, physical and emotional well-being. By recognizing and nurturing the role that connectedness plays, we can mitigate issues like loneliness, ultimately promoting healthy aging for more Americans.

There are so many ways for seniors to connect in our communities—attending senior citizens centers, adult day programs, fitness clubs and other social, cultural or recreational clubs. Too, we often find many seniors volunteering, working, teaching and mentoring others. These are just a few ways to connect with others.

As we all know, the senior population in Alaska has been steadily growing over the years. Alaskans age 60 and older represent more than 21% of the state’s total population. As Alaska’s senior population continues to grow, it is important to ensure that their rights, welfare, independence and dignity are honored. We also want to ensure seniors have the support services they need to thrive. This is an opportunity to thank the network of agency providers who provide those critical support services for seniors in our Alaskan communities. Thank you!

By the way, if you are a senior and are looking for volunteer opportunities, feel free to connect with agencies like Red Cross of Alaska, AARP Alaska, RurAL CAP’s Elder Volunteer Program, or connect with Volunteer Match at http://www.volunteermatch.org.

Our office, The Alaska Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, provides resident centered advocacy to protect the rights, health, safety and welfare of residents residing in long term care facilities. We are always looking for volunteers to do friendly visits with seniors in assisted living homes or skilled nursing facilities.

Look around you, take advantage of the opportunity to honor seniors in your community this month—seniors in your neighborhood, seniors in your work space, seniors in your social club, seniors at your gym, and seniors in your family.

Seniors of Alaska, we honor and appreciate you and thank you for all that you do to make life better for all Alaskans. Celebrate you!

Stephanie Wheeler is the Alaska Long Term Care Ombudsman.

 
 

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