Celebrating our Strength and Resilience this Older American’s Month
Strong Communities are Worth Celebration!
Older Americans Month, 2021 celebrates our nation’s willingness to build strong, resilient communities as we continue to emerge from this once-in-a-century event. The pandemic is exposing the health and social inequities that can no longer be ignored. We believe that each person should age with dignity. This requires us to build communities where connection and engagement are accessible to all. In this past year, we have lost so many vulnerable people to the virus. In fact, the virus caused eighty percent of deaths in people 65 years and older. Communities of color, low-income, rural, inner-city populations experience the highest rates of social isolation and health declines right now.
Purpose, Perspective, and Perseverance
This year’s Older American Month challenges each of us to reach out to others who are struggling to age in place. Most Americans are eager to remain in the community at every age. Look around and picture your future self. What can you contribute to your neighborhood? Many people discovered new purpose, perspective, and perseverance during the past year. The feel-good news stories became a regular feature on the evening news such as the teenagers shopping for elderly neighbors. Or the middle school kids playing a concert on a neighbor’s front porch. And the drive-by celebrations for birthdays, graduations, retirements, and other life events brought us together even while staying at a safe distance. My hope is we will not return to our insular lives after this illness is vanquished.
Communities of Strength
Today more seniors are vaccinated than any other age group. Grandparents are reuniting with grandchildren. Family and friends are getting vaccinated so they can start hugging and gathering for family and social events. The American Rescue Plan is bringing us back together to renew our commitment to each other as reflected in this year’s celebration.
New programs are authorized under the Older Americans Act with food, health care, and other home and community-based services for our most vulnerable people and their caregivers. One of my favorite new programs is the establishment of the National Technical Assistance Center on Grand families and Kinship Families, to give much-needed aid to those older Americans who have stepped up to parent the next generation of Americans. Lastly, Adult Protective Services have expanded authority to punish those engaging in fraud, abuse, or neglecting the needs of our seniors.
Resilience in 2021
Find joy in small things and share your stories. See the big picture and give to others. Join us in promoting the ways we are connected and strong. What can you do to nurture, strengthen, and improve your community? Connecting with others plays a vital role in our individual and collective health and well-being. Here’s to a great 2021!