Every year in May, Older Americans Month recognizes the contributions of older adults across the nation.

On April 27, Hood River City Council issued a Proclamation at the request of Aging in the Gorge Alliance, proclaiming May Older American’s Month. 

Led by the Administration for Community Living (www.aoa.acl.gov) each May, OAM also provides resources to help older Americans stay healthy and independent, and materials to help communities support and celebrate their citizens, said AGA Steering Committee members Claire Culbertson and Britta Willson.

This year’s OAM theme, “Make Your Mark,” highlights older adults’ unique and lasting contributions to their communities — everything from sharing a story with grandchildren to leaving a legacy of community action. 

While raising families and building careers, older Americans also gave back to their communities in a variety of ways.

In their lifetime, times have changed and they continue to volunteer and serve their neighborhoods in their own ways.

Whether they mentored children, volunteered at a soup kitchen or served their country, each one deserves recognition for their commitment.

In light of everything that is going on in the world right now, it is of particular importance that we consider this population and their value and contributions to our society.

How do older adults contribute to society?

Like any other American, they shop, use services (which employ people) and pay taxes.

They volunteer; in fact, many organizations rely heavily on older volunteers.

Older adults provide transportation or run errands for others.

They provide emotional support and friendship, elders give generously of both their time and money:

They make more charitable donations per capita than any other age group.

Older adults look after grandchildren so their adult children can go to work with peace of mind.

Children receive the precious opportunity to know and love their grandparents.

Quality child care is invaluable — both expensive and hard to find.

Grandparents are like gold.

Older adults provide care for spouses or friends. They may not think of themselves as caregivers, but without their love and care, all the activities we take for granted (grocery shopping, cooking, paying bills, or provide transportation to medical appointments) would fall to paid caregivers.

Other family members are not always available to help, may live too far away, or have health problems themselves.

There are organizations that can assist, but the bulk of these supports are made possible because of volunteers (who are often older adults).

Being an older adult comes with unique challenges. During COVID-19, many face loneliness and isolation, fear about one’s own health, and concerns about family members.

Older adults may experience fear about being able to meet their basic needs, and anxiety over the constant news cycle.

We know that older adults are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than other age groups. They, especially, have been warned to stay at home, particularly if they have underlying health conditions.

Many of these older adults are our parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and people we see around town. 

What can you do to show your appreciation for this extremely valuable population that may be overlooked?

During Older American’s Month, we salute the value and contribution of this unique and special population!

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