Older Americans honored in May

Each May, since 1963, people in towns and cities across the country have come together to celebrate the enormous contributions of older Americans-borne of wisdom, experience, and the will to realize their dreams and speak their minds. Older Americans Month is our chance to show our appreciation and support our seniors as they continue to enrich and strengthen our communities. It allows community members and leaders to show their appreciation of older citizens. It demonstrates we appreciate seniors as vital, active, contributing members of society.

In 1963, when Older Americans Month was established, only around 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. Today that number has risen dramatically. Older adults bring inspiration and continuity to our communities. Their shared histories, diverse experiences, and wealth of knowledge have made our culture, economy, and local character what they are today. Older Americans live longer, healthier and more engaged lives, in part, due to advances in health care, education, technology and the emphasis on healthy living. This year’s theme, “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.” drives home that point.

Older adults are out and about giving back and making a difference in their community. They are mentoring the leaders of tomorrow, taking to heart the need for learning and inspiration. They offer a take on times gone by not discussed in any history class, a unique perspective that sheds new light on contemporary issues. Older Americans step up to help one another as well. Across the country, seniors connect with other seniors by delivering meals, offering a ride, assisting with shopping, and offering companionship, and care. Their efforts remind us that when older adults are active and engaged in their communities, everyone benefits.

Take time to celebrate Older Americans Month! It is a proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to honor the value that seniors continue to contribute to our communities. Join others to recognize what older citizens bring to our communities as productive, active, and influential members of our society. Help them continue playing a vital role in weaving a unique and lasting imprint upon our community.

While the O’Neill Center provides services, supports, and resources to older adults year-round, Older Americans Month is a great opportunity to remind our community of the many services and programs provided. Today’s senior centers are full of fantastic ways to stay healthy, find resources, learn new skills, and give back to the community. I invite you to stop by the O’Neill Center and Belpre Senior Center to see what you’ve been missing.

The O’Neill Center is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation located at 333 Fourth St., Marietta. It serves as both a multipurpose senior center and a community focal point for accessing information and services for the elderly of Washington County. O’Neill Center is accredited by the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Funding support is received from the Older Americans Act administered by ODA through Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District Area Agency on Aging; United Way; Washington County Senior Services Levy, and others.

Connie Huntsman is executive director of O’Neill Center, 333 Fourth St., Marietta.