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Every May, we celebrate National Older Americans Month. This is a time to honor seniors across the country and raise awareness about the many ways older adults contribute to society. Seniors are often overlooked in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven culture, but the month of May is an opportunity to show older adults just how important they are to us.

National Older Americans Month dates back to 1963. What you may not know is that this was two years before Medicare was established. At the time, only 17 million Americans, or 9 percent of the population, lived long enough to see their 65th birthday. Today, research tells us more than 49 million Americans are aged 65 or older, roughly 15 percent of the population.

This year, the U.S. Administration on Aging, which is now part of the Administration for Community Living under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is promoting the theme, “Connect, Create, Contribute” as a part of its National Older Americans Month celebration. The Administration “encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family and services that support seniors.
  • Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent and life experience to benefit others.”

How do we ensure that we are doing this with the parents and grandparents in our lives? Studies show that older adults are generally happier and healthier when they are engaged in the lives of others. There are many ways to achieve this, but success is ultimately a two-way street. In other words, more older adults should feel comfortable engaging others and the rest of society should be more accepting of senior adult contributions.

Whether you make sure to include your loved ones and friends in your activities or simply communicate more often on the telephone, be sure to make good communication a priority. If you do not live close by, encourage your loved ones to get involved in the activities and causes that interest them. Involvement like this can ensure that they build a community of support in their city or town.

The Administration for Community Living continues its message this May by sharing  “communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.”

It is true that seniors are also an enormous, diverse group that is on track to overtake younger people for the first time ever. At the end of the next decade, the entire living “Baby Boomer” generation will be older than age 65. That means one in every five U.S. citizens will be of retirement age. Knowing this information we can ensure that seniors are taking a proactive role to living their best lives both now and well into the future, at any age.

This May, make sure that you and your Older American loved ones discuss the important topics that could impact them. You need to know how they want to handle the potential need for long-term care and create the estate planning that reflects their goals for their legacy. We encourage you to schedule a meeting to ask us your questions, either during National Older Americans Month, or any time throughout the year.