Older Americans have been officially honored for their contributions to our nation since 1963 when President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month. Since then, the name has been changed to Older Americans Month, but its purpose remains the same.
This year’s theme is “Blaze a Trail”, emphasizing the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.
Each of us can be a trailblazer and help enrich others’ lives. You’re never too old or frail to leave an indelible mark in the world. Here are a few simple ways you can celebrate Older Americans Month:
The Corporation for National and Community Service found in its report, “The Health Benefits of Volunteering”, that adults who volunteer had a more active lifestyle—both physical and mentally—which reduced the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and depression.
From volunteering to mentoring the younger generation to serving on the board of local nonprofit organizations, there are numerous opportunities for older adults to share their time and knowledge. Senior Corps, for example, connects today’s 55+ with the people and organizations that need them the most.
A quick Google search of “senior volunteers” reveals a treasure trove of agencies and charities seeking the expertise of older adults.
Share Your Knowledge
Were you a former chairman or an accountant? Why not share your breadth of knowledge with entrepreneurs as they try to avoid the pitfalls of small business ownership. Organizations such as SCORE provide confidential business mentoring services and host workshops to help small business owners achieve success. Retired executives and CEO’s are always welcomed.
According to the website, MicroMentor, mentored businesses increased their revenue by 83 percent while non-mentored businesses only increased revenue by 16 percent. There is quite a level of satisfaction in knowing that your business acumen helped a passionate entrepreneur take his start-up to the next level.
Plus, science proves the “high” of helping won’t just be a fleeting emotion. Giving back has been shown to strengthen one’s immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and provide stress relief.
Try a New Activity
In honor of Older Americans Month, consider attending an activity that you don’t normally attend. Try a new fitness class. Learn another language. Plan a getaway to a country that isn’t on your “bucket list”. Uncover a hidden hobby. You may be surprised to discover you actually enjoy trying something new and/or different.
A quick scan of the local newspapers’ community calendar offers endless options of activities taking place. Author book signings, art gallery exhibits, outdoor group fitness classes and music/food festivals offer opportunities to take a step outside your comfort zone.
Older adults continue to blaze trails and impart their life experiences into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond. This Older Americans Month, be encouraged to continue shattering stereotypes and redefine what it means to be an older adult.