The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration on Aging explains that each May marks Older Americans Month, a celebration used to “honor and recognize older Americans for the contributions they make to our families, communities and society.” Every year, the administration releases a new theme which helps promote the health and wellness of older Americans.
This year’s theme is “Never Too Old to Play” and older Americans are encouraged to “stay engaged, active and involved in their own lives and in their communities.” Most past themes of this celebration promote healthy living and continued happiness, and this year’s event is no different.
This year older Americans are encouraged to get physically active by engaging in gentle physical exercise. These exercises can improve balance and strengthen muscles while putting minimal strain on the body. This helps prevent falls which can result in broken bones and head or spinal cord injuries.
The organization website also explains that due to a number of structural and activity changes in the brain accompanying aging, movement and thought can be affected. However, studies indicate certain exercises can train and stimulate the brain, “improving its efficiency and perhaps even reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”
Other activities promoted during this year’s Older Americans Month include a call to “Bridge the generation gap” and “Get creative.” By bridging the generation gap, younger American’s get to learn from their elders, while older Americans enjoy the increased activity and sense of self-worth that accompanies spending time with younger people. When older Americans embrace creativity, they get to express themselves in a “creative and healing process of self-expression.”
Finally, a major goal of Older Americans Month is to build community. The organization’s website allows participants to mark their events on a community calendar and share videos, stories, and photographs from their celebrations.
The website also includes ideas for events, games, and other activities to help mark this month’s celebrations. This year participants are also encouraged to “Host a Day of Play” and promote the event through both social media and more traditional tools including posters and newsletters.
This May’s Older Americans Month follows last month’s Safe Kids Week, which is put on by Safe Kids USA and aims to promote childhood injury prevention. This year’s event was celebrated from April 21 to April 28 and included a number of separate campaigns to ensure playground and sports safety.
Both Safe Kids Week and Older Americans Month share a common goal of safeguarding the most vulnerable citizens from preventable accidents and injuries.