AFS Blog

Celebrating Older Americans Month

Celebrating Older Americans Month

Each year during May, we celebrate Older American's Month, and this year is no exception. Not even a pandemic can prevent Americans from recognizing and honoring older adults as proclaimed on April 30, 2020.

This year's theme, "Make Your Mark," seems very fitting for these unprecedented times. Certainly, we will not forget the collective impact this pandemic has made, not only on our nation but specifically on our elder population.

While many older adults have had to self-isolate, there are many out on the front lines continuing to work in the healthcare field, leading nonprofits, ministering to those in need, sewing countless masks, volunteering at testing sites, delivering meals, and distributing food through pantries and drive up donation sites. We recognize these contributions and offer our sincerest thanks.

We have seen a significant shift in how both the country and the world view older adults. It is not just about fragility or diminished abilities, though there are many with needs. It is also about active aging, participation, and recognition of talents and resources older adults bring to the table, which is clearly demonstrated by the creation of the global Age-Friendly movement.

In 2015, Sarasota County became Florida's first community to join the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Age-Friendly communities seek to create an environment that empowers all people to live purposeful, active lives that promote inclusion and respect. It includes the combination of community members, government, business, nonprofits, and media to work together in developing services, systems, and policies that enhance livability for people of all ages and abilities.

When "Senior Citizens Month" was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, only 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthday, a far cry from today's 49.2 million and counting.

Two years later, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act, which resulted in the formation of the Administration on Aging, State Units on Aging, and Area Agencies on Aging. It later introduced home and community-based services such as nutrition, in-home services, transportation, legal, elder abuse prevention, and caregiver support.

I would hope that these innovators and forward thinkers were paving the way for us to continue the good work by advocating for and supporting programs and services that benefit older adults.

With that, let's get going, make a difference, and continue to "Make Your Mark."


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