You may not know it, but May is Older Americans Month.
Every year since 1963, when John F. Kennedy issued the first of what would be an annual proclamation, our president has asked the nation to come together to honor the older adults among us.
This national tradition celebrates the contributions that older adults have made not just in neighborhoods and towns like Hyde Park or Madisonville or Cambridge that are home to vibrant retirement communities, but in any communities where they live or spend time.
The History of Older Americans Month
When this national observance was first established in the early sixties, reaching older adulthood was an accomplishment. Senior life wasn’t easy. Only 17 million Americans were 65 or older, and a third of them lived in poverty with few programs or resources available to meet their needs.
President Kennedy met with the National Council of Senior Citizens to discuss growing concerns about the welfare of older Americans. This meeting served as the impetus for Kennedy’s proclamation for the month of May as "Senior Citizens Month."
Then in 1980, Jimmy Carter declared “Older Americans Month” a national tradition—a time to recognize the importance of senior life and all that older adults have done for our communities, especially their service to our country.
Today, Older Americans Month is a proud American tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to honoring the value that elders bring to our communities, and senior life is honored throughout the country with ceremonies, fairs and other celebratory events and activities.
Celebrate Senior Life This May
Every year, this observance is given a theme. In 2012, we were “Never Too Old to Play.” This year, we’re going to “Unleash the Power of Age” in our retirement communities and across the country.
Here are a few ways that we’re unleashing the power of age at ERH retirement communities.
Creativity is a powerful force that enriches senior life. The arts provide a point of commonality between people of all ages, cultures, genders, and abilities that allow us to bridge the cultural and generational gaps that are inherent in communication.
The visual and performance arts can serve as a powerful way for older adults to engage in meaningful self-expression and build relationships within their community.
At ERH retirement communities we’re always working to promote the arts.
We host exclusive performances by both local and traveling artists and musicians. The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra is a regular performer in our retirement communities, and we open our doors to students from the College-Conservatory of Music who wish to learn how to play in front of an audience and to traveling groups like the McGing Irish Dancers.
We have plenty of opportunities for residents to engage in their own creative expression as well.
At Episcopal Retirement Homes, we’re advocates for lifelong learning. We encourage residents to learn and grow through art. Our retirement communities regularly host art receptions that feature the work of our residents and sponsor art classes that are taught by professional artists like copper enameling with Jaime Frechette.
Becoming involved in community can enrich senior life, and community life is enhanced when older adults take part in local events and activities.
Older Americans are an integral part of our communities, and there are plenty of ways that communities can come together to honor amazing older adults, like the residents of our retirement communities, and unleash the power of age. In fact, joining forces with others might be the best way for older adults to improve life in their communities. A whole community benefits when older adults are able to share their abilities and experience with friends and neighbors.
At ERH we build ties to our community through outreach and partnerships with local businesses.
From Meals on Wheels to the Council for Lifelong Engagement and the Speakers Bureau, Episcopal Retirement Homes operate a number of outreach programs that help residents in our retirement communities build relationships in Greater Cincinnati and educate the community on aging gracefully.
ERH retirement communities have partnered with local restaurants and merchants to help our residents experience the community around them. Our Preferred Customer Program encourages residents to get out into Greater Cincinnati by offering discounts and other savings opportunities at specialty stores and restaurants within our community.