Every May, along with the Administration for Community Living (ACL), organizations and individuals come together to observe Older Americans Month. This is a time for us, as a nation, to shine a light on lessons, experiences, and issues that arise with the aging population. The annual theme for 2022’s Older Americans Month is “Age My Way,” which shines a light on how older adults can age in place, at home, and live independently for as long as they can.
There are many ways we all can come together and show support for the aging individuals in our lives, neighborhoods, and communities this May for Older Americans Month.
- Gather the valuable stories of older adults. Asking the older adults in your life and community is a great way to honor their experiences. Call a local community center, an assisted living facility, or even work with your local library to hold storytelling workshops. If you have older adults in your own life, interview them and capture their experiences and stories so they can be preserved and passed down to other generations to come. So much wisdom can be gained by listening to our elders, and knowing these stories can help you understand why it is so important for those in your life to age their own way.
- Get social on social media! Ask your friends, family, and followers to share their perspective on what it means to them to “age my way,” and use a common hashtag (such as #OlderAmericansMonth or #AgeMyWay) to organize them together after to create a document commemorating the month.
- Get involved with the aging community near you. Find out where aging adults gather in your community and spend time with them. Oftentimes, if we do not have a connection to older adults, we can forget how important it is to honor them, celebrate them, and learn from them. With YMCAs and senior centers in seemingly every city, there are ample opportunities for you to gather with and learn from older adults in your community. By learning from them, you are also becoming an advocate and ally for them, and we all need allies in this life.
- Pull together and distribute resources for aging adults. So many older adults do not know where to turn when it comes to needing support. From insurance agencies who work with various policies and workshops on wills and trusts to silver sneaker programs and even gardening or crafting clubs, many entities exist to help aging Americans age positively! Taking some time to gather these resources in your own community and making them readily available to others is a great way to show your support for the older adults who may need them. You may even come into contact with organizations that meet needs you never even thought of, which is a great way to even honor your own future self as you age!
- Show up and listen. Just by listening to the needs and desires of older adults shows you care. By showing up, you are giving them the gift of your presence. You don’t need to have all – or any – of the answers, but by being there, you are becoming part of the solution to help those you care about age positively in their own way. No two paths look the same, and by being there and showing you care, you can become a guidepost along the journey for those in your life.
Aging in place at home in their own way is attainable for countless Americans, and it’s what they want! By aging in place at home, aging adults are able to be active and productive members of their communities, and by knowing how to plan and who to call upon, aging adults can age positively where they live for the entirety of their lives. What does this look like?
For many, aging positively in place at home looks like asking for a receiving help with daily activities of living – like laundry, hygiene, errand running, or assistance with food. For others, it looks like using their time and talent to volunteer and give back to their communities or receiving job training and help with employment after age 50. That is where VANTAGE Aging comes into play for older Ohioans and promotes seniors’ abilities to age their own way.
VANTAGE Aging’s work is driven by its mission of promoting a positive perspective on aging. By helping older Ohioans age in place, at home where they want to be, our programs enable those individuals to age in their own way. For older adults who want to get back into the workforce and have financial independence, VANTAGE Aging’s Workforce Solutions program is there to help provide them meaningful opportunities to earn a living as they age. Within the Workforce Solutions program, seniors can also gain valuable digital access and computer competencies through our digital divide program, making even work from home and remote learning options available to seniors, regardless of their previous technological skills. For seniors who may need assistance with daily activities of life, VANTAGE Aging’s Home Wellness Solutions program is here to help. Errands, housekeeping, and other nonmedical in-home care and wellness support is provided through our highly trained and compassionate staff to help each individual live independently, successfully, and positively at home. If food insecurity is an issue, Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio provides daily nutrition and wellness checks to those in need (and their pets!) through nutritious and delicious meals made by hand, using fresh ingredients and a lot of love, in our kitchen. And, if you want to give back to your community and are not sure where to turn, look no further than our AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer network. From helping other nonprofits further their missions to helping the local parks system stay naturally beautiful and clean, there are many opportunities to give back!
VANTAGE Aging may not have all of the answers when it comes to helping older Ohioans age their own way, but with our core programming and our vision that every older adult has the right to age independently and with dignity, VANTAGE provides services that empower older adults to remain in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities. By remaining in their homes, seniors can truly age their own way, which then allows them to enrich their communities in ways that would not be possible if they lost their choice to stay home. This month, and truly every month, VANTAGE Aging supports, believes in, and promotes the ability for older adults to “Age My Way,” as it at the heart of everything we do. If you or someone you love may need assistance in aging in their own way, or to support our mission and work in the communities we serve, contact us today!