This Year’s Theme Is “Blaze a Trail”
May, a month of fresh beginnings, is when we celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) to acknowledge the past and ongoing contributions—economic, political, cultural, and artistic, to name a few—of older adults to our communities and our country as a whole.
Beginning in 1963 and led by the Administration for Community Living, the annual observance offers opportunities to learn about, support and celebrate our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.
From 69-year-old NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. to 84-year-old actress Rita Moreno to 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who took her seat as a Supreme Court Justice at age 60, older adults are blazing trails in all aspects of American life.
The Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging recommends these ways for participating in Older American Month’s celebration of trailblazing efforts and contributions by seniors.
Trailblazer stories. Encourage older adults in your area (relatives, neighbors, friends) to share how they are blazing trails or how they’ve done so in the past. This includes ways they give back to the community, start new careers or hobbies, redefine aging, or any other activity or mindset that says “trailblazing.”
Trail walk (indoors or outdoors). Seek community volunteers who might want to share their expertise to host a walk with trail markers (or stations) staffed by people who can talk about topics pertinent to older Americans (financial security, connection with others, health and wellness). Participants can stop at each station to get information or participate in an activity. For instance, a fitness marker could be operated by a fitness leader demonstrating gentle stretches or by a nutritionist offering tips on choosing and preparing healthy foods.
Give back. Find older adults (and others!) who want to volunteer. Plan an activity that gives something back to your community. Projects might involve picking up trash or gardening in public areas—possibly along a local trail/path to tie into the theme. Alternatives include collecting donations for charity, painting walls in an underserved school, and volunteering to support local service members. Collaborate with a nonprofit in your area—they may already have ideas or projects to get you started.
Intergenerational connection. Younger and older adults can form lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with one another. Encourage these connections by organizing an activity with a local school or special groups, like Boys and Girls Clubs. Invite older adults to tutor and mentor the students, or have students interview and write about older community members. Start by contacting a school or club administrator. Or get teenagers and young adults to reach out. They can volunteer in senior centers, help neighbors with yard work, or just visit.