Every May, our nation celebrates, honors and uplifts the senior members of our communities during Older Americans Month (OAM). This month is a time for us to reflect on the contributions older Americans have made to our society, our communities and our nation at large. This year’s theme is “Communities of Strength,” and presents a unique opportunity for us to honor seniors in our community and pay tribute to their histories and the lessons they have to teach us.
“Our elders have built strength and resilience over their lives, and have many things to teach us about success, failure, difficulties and joys,” says Mike Silverman, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Pointe, a senior living community offering exceptional lifestyles in the Jewish tradition. “By helping them share their stories and learning from them, we are inspired and richer for the experience.”
Since 1963, Older Americans Month has been a time to honor the contributions of older adults across our nation’s history. When OAM was established, approximately one-third of America’s 17 million older adults lived in poverty. In response to this crisis and growing concern, President John F. Kennedy called a meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens to discuss how to help the aging population. In order to help raise awareness of the issues facing senior Americans, May was proclaimed as Senior Citizens Month.
Two years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act of 1965, transforming Senior Citizens Month into Older Americans Month. This spurred a variety of actions and initiatives to raise awareness, encourage community involvement and enact positive change for older Americans.
The Older Americans Act also established the Administration on Aging – the first federal agency specifically designed to address issues and challenges faced by the elder population of America. The Administration on Aging has been instrumental in introducing nutrition programs, adult day care initiatives, legal assistance, transportation assistance and other supportive services for seniors. Most importantly, the act helped pave the way for the Medicare program, which has resulted in increased health care services and improved health for older adults across the nation.
“Honoring our elders and celebrating the contributions they have made is a key tenant of life at Heritage Pointe,” says Mike. “Our one-of-a-kind, nonprofit community is solely focused on our Residents and their independence, health, safety, comfort and happiness. We honor our elders – our communal fathers and mothers – as Jewish tradition teaches us. By virtue of living at Heritage Pointe, each and every one of our Residents are members of K’hilat Horim – our Community of Parents.”
While Heritage Pointe honors and celebrates Residents every day, Older Americans Month is a chance for the community to pay extra attention and nurturing to those who call Heritage Pointe home. Mike says that plans are in place for celebrations, special programs and events to help uplift Residents and honor the contributions they have made to our society at large.
If you have older adults in your life and are looking for ways to celebrate them during Older Americans Month, here are some ways to enrich the relationships you have and create meaningful experiences.
Connect with others.
Being with other people fosters a sense of connection and the experience of community. As the COVID-19 pandemic eases and we’re able to do more thanks to nationwide vaccine programs, this May is the perfect opportunity to create events that bring together the people we care about. Here are a few ideas of activities you can do with older adults:
- A game night outside with activities like charades, badminton or board games. If everyone in attendance has been fully vaccinated, the game night can be held indoors if the weather is chilly.
- Host a movie night indoors or outdoors – just be sure that wherever you are has extra heating options in case it gets cold.
- Enjoy a musical performance in a park or coordinate your own.
Connect with intergenerational pen pals.
Writing and receiving letters is a wonderful way to build relationships across the miles. Both young people and older adults can benefit from making friends and connecting with each other. Being friends with people of different generations allows us to learn, feel more connected and helps us feel less alone. Younger individuals can learn from the wisdom and knowledge of their elders, while seniors can benefit from the tech-savvy, curiosity and energy that younger people bring to the table. Forming a pen pal group is as simple as a grandchild writing a letter to their grandparents, or you can go more official and connect with churches, schools and other groups for a more large-scale activity.
Volunteer for a group project.
Working together to create something that benefits others is a wonderful way to build community. Even if you can’t physically be together, doing something that is building towards a goal will forge bonds and create meaning. There are many hobbies and activities that can be done either together or separately, like making a quilt, planting a garden or writing a story. Think of something that is inspiring to you or has meaning to an older adult in your life. Another option is to have your older adult teach you some of their skills, such as cooking, knitting, woodworking or another hobby that holds significant meaning in their lives.
Capture their stories.
Our elders have words of wisdom and experiences that should be preserved for future generations. Organizations like StoryCorps are founded on the principle of saving those stories, in the individual’s own words, for posterity. Grab a digital recorder and your notebook and meet with a loved one to talk about their childhood, their past and anything else that you’d like to learn from them. Not only may you learn more about them, but you may learn something about yourself, as well.
ROOTED IN JEWISH TRADITION & CULTURE.
Founded more than 30 years ago, Heritage Pointe provides the highest quality assisted living and memory care to seniors in Orange County. Welcoming to those of all faiths, Heritage Pointe is Orange County’s only senior community rooted in Jewish culture, tradition and values.
For those who need some level of support to live their best lives, Heritage Pointe inspires independence and wellness through an extraordinary lifestyle, high-quality care and rich traditions. It’s a trusted, joyful community offering a lifestyle filled with possibilities – wherever a Resident may be on their senior living journey.
Our one-of-a-kind, nonprofit community is open to people of all backgrounds and faiths. Our mission is focused on our Residents and their independence, health, safety, comfort and happiness. Heritage Pointe has deep roots in this community and is committed to providing Residents with the best possible lifestyle and care both now and well into the future.
Call for more information at 949.284.8980 or visit our website.