By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions
As we are nearing the middle of the month of May, a reminder that May is Older Americans Month.
Older Americans Month was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy following a meeting between the President and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens. It was initially called Senior Citizens Month.
Back in 1963, only 17 million individuals in the United State were 65 years of age or older, with about one-third living in poverty. There were few programs available to meet their needs.
Today, estimates indicate the number of individuals 65+ tops 46 million. Projections indicate the number will grow to almost 90 million by 2050.
The theme for Older Americans Month 2021 is “Communities of Strength.” There is a special focus on the resilience and strength that older adults have built over time through their successes, failures, joys, and difficulties. There is a special emphasis on the power of connection.
The emphasis on the power of connection is especially appropriate as more and more research has found social connectivity to be one of the most important keys to healthy aging. Research indicates that social isolation and loneliness can be more harmful than obesity, smoking or high blood pressure.
Fortunately, technology now enables us to connect with others via cells phones and computers. We can text and instant message, video chat and share pictures and videos. The technology has been highly beneficial in light of the need at the assisted living and memory care communities we operate to restrict visitation, discontinue communal dining and group activities, close off community areas, and require residents to self-isolate in their apartments due to COVID-19.
Typically, one of the biggest benefits of senior living and assisted living are all of the opportunities for social interaction and connectivity.
Enjoying meals with other residents in the community dining room.
Participating in social, recreational, educational and wellness activities with other residents.
Being able to interact with other residents in the community’s lounge areas and community rooms.
Being able to visit with family, friends, and other residents in the comfort of their private apartment or in one of the community’s many lounge areas and community rooms.
The power of social engagement also is important in the effort to build strong communities that enable older adults to continue to thrive. From my point of view, we need to shift from a culture that covets and glorifies youth to a society that values those of every.