New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a proclamation recognizing the month of May as “Older Americans Month” (OAM). The month has been designated by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as OAM and New Jersey embrace the national theme for this month, “Connect, Create and Contribute.
According to Murphy’s proclamation, there are 1.8 million New Jersey residents who are aged 60 and older. He says that individuals continue to play an important role by continuing to contribute their life experiences, wisdom and accomplishments to their local communities throughout the Garden State.
Murphy calls on New Jersey residents to take time throughout May to recognize the wisdom, experience and skills of older adults and recognize these individuals as a valuable asset to their communities.
A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the Washington, DC-based National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to OAM. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. OAM is now celebrated across the nation through ceremonies, events, fairs and other such activities.
When OAM was established only 17 million living Americans had celebrated their 65 birthdays. About a third of these individuals lived in poverty and at that time there were few federal programs to meet their needs. Now, Medicare, Medicaid and the Older Americans Act, to name a few, protect the health and well-being of these individuals.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and over age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent. With the graying of the nation, the numbers of those reaching age 65 and over is skyrocketing.
With a lifetime of skills to draw upon, interests to explore and goals to achieve, older Americans build stronger, more vital communities through their creations. That’s why “Create” is the central element in the ACL three-part theme for this year’s OAM: Connect, Create, Contribute.
Connecting with your family, friends and neighbors, by spending time sharing your experiences through storytelling, can happen informally just by sitting in Hearthstone Estates Assisted Living’s restaurant-style dining room, or in its landscaped park-like sitting area in its private court yard. These informal connections can also take place at the Assisted Living Facility’s arts and craft and exercise classes, entertainment trips, and family and resident parties.
Connecting, Learning and Giving Back
ACL calls on older adults to explore their creative side by taking course, gardening, learning to paint, studying a language or even attending workshop on financial planning or personal computers. Consider taking enrolling in an exercise program or taking dance lessons.
You can take advantage of the many opportunities offered by Hearthstone Estates Assisted Living Facility or at your local senior center programs to continue learning. ACL suggests older adults can also take on a healthier lifestyle by participating in an evidence-based program that offer proven models to promote health and prevent disease, and even attend programs on chronic disease self-management, falls prevention, physical activity and mental health. Participants can set meaningful goals, engage with and learn from their peers, and benefit from proven results. You can find an evidence-based program near you. Go to www.eblcprograms.org/evidence-based/map-of-programs/.
ACL notes that older Americans can contribute their time, talent, and life experiences to benefit others by volunteering, mentoring younger people, and continuing to be civically engaged.
This month, Hearthstone Estate Assisted Living celebrates OAM by recognizing the life achievements of its residents and staff who serve and support them.