Every year since 1988, Aug. 21 has been celebrated as National Senior Citizens Day in America. That was the year that President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation of a national day of recognition of older Americans’ wisdom, leadership and contributions.
If you’re a senior living in Cincinnati, there are many ways for you to highlight the valuable roles that older people play in our community.
Whether you’re still working or recently retired, aging in place or receiving Enriched Living services at Deupree House, you’re indispensable to the rest of us. And Aug. 21 is the day to show it.
Here are three creative ways you and your older friends can celebrate National Senior Citizens Day.
Practice random acts of kindness
When’s the last time you got out of the house and just enjoyed people? Maybe you could do that on National Senior Citizens Day — go out and spread some good karma and happiness.
Many folks in Cincinnati and the surrounding Tristate, young and old, are hurting in this economy. They’re frazzled, always in a hurry and constantly worried about how they can make ends meet.
A lot of retirees, too, live on fixed incomes and don’t have much money to enjoy extras in their retirement. If you’re one of the lucky few who have enough, and then some, you could help.
Buy someone’s morning coffee or lunch. Hold the door open for a mother with a small child. Smile at folks you meet. Chat with random people at the bus stop. Just get out and brighten someone’s day by being unexpectedly kind to them.
You’ll meet new people, make a positive difference on someone’s mood and maybe even make a few new friends.
Have a “Seniors’ Day Out”
Everyone wear the same color t-shirt and go somewhere. Show Cincinnati how seniors can live out loud by enjoying each other’s company while experiencing our city.
Make a group dinner reservation downtown. Go bowling together. Take in a ballgame or a community theater’s show. Go shopping together, or enjoy an afternoon picnic at one of Hamilton County’s amazingly beautiful parks.
The more visible you and your senior friends can make yourselves, the more younger people will come to realize that older people aren’t shut-in stereotypes.
You can help Episcopal Retirement Services fight ageism just by getting out and getting noticed by the younger members of our community.
Throw a neighborhood mixer for young and old
When’s the last time you actually spoke with your younger neighbors? Have you even introduced yourself to them? So many people living in suburbs, subdivisions and even urban neighborhoods don’t socialize with each other anymore.
And that’s not necessarily because Americans don’t want to know their neighbors. It’s just that a lot of our neighbors are working really hard to stay above water.
Young professionals, families with small children, single people — they’re often running around, engrossed in their own lives, and they often don’t take the time to go meet their older neighbors.
And, too, the advent of digital social spaces has made people more likely to virtually connect with each other than to connect in person. You might be Facebook “friends” with a younger couple from down the street, but never actually speak to them in the physical world.
You can help to change the paradigm. Don’t wait for your younger neighbors to come introduce themselves to you. Take the initiative, don’t be shy, and go introduce yourselves to them.
Better yet, throw a mixer. Set aside a day to fire up the grill and barbecue in the backyard. Invite your younger and older neighbors over for a summer evening potluck. Get the kids playing a backyard game, or run around and catch fireflies with them.
Who says that National Senior Citizens Day is a day only older people should celebrate? Make a party of it — a whole community party.
What will you do this National Senior Citizens Day?
As President Reagan said, upon signing the proclamation about Aug. 21: “Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities and our country.”
“That remains true today, and gives us ample reason this year to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land.”
You can honor those words, and the spirit behind them, by getting out on National Senior Citizens Day and being visible.