There’s a bit of irony in the fact that President Kennedy designated the first Senior Citizens Month in 1963. Kennedy was a young man then, the nation’s youngest president. If today’s seniors were even around, they were also young, facing an uncertain future and a far distant war.
“Senior Citizen” was still politically correct, not that the world was yet into political correctness in 1963. For the record, it was 1980 when President Jimmy Carter changed the name to “Older Americans Month” and who, incidentally, redefined the image and role of 21st Century older Americans.
Theme of Older Americans Month 2016 is “Blaze a Trail.” The idea is to challenge older Americans to take action, to give back to their communities, to start new careers or hobbies, basically to put a contemporary face on aging.
At the national level planners of OAM have provide a robust digital library of excellent resources created by a host of federal agencies and nonprofits including USDA, NIH, National Institute of Aging, the National Center for Creative Living, the Office of Justice Programs and others. The basic resource themes include Wellness, Securing Your Finances, Reinvention and Civic Engagement. All of these are readily accessible online – http://oam.acl.gov/resources.html
For the statistically enchanted, the U.S. Census Bureau has also just issued a great guide (CB16-FF.08) https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff08.html. It’s actually a great introduction to a world of numbers that tell the story of a rapidly changing demographic shift in this country and the world.
It may not be too late for community groups, churches, nonprofits, book clubs and others to build on the “Trailblazer” theme with an interesting Story Competition also prepared by OAM organizers. The idea is to launch a “trailblazer” story competition to encourage older adults to share their stories – stories of their careers, time in defending the nation, their advocacy work, whether for the arts of early childhood education or services for those who are physically or mentally challenged. Again, there’s an excellent guide for organizers. http://oam.acl.gov/2016/docs/2016-OAM-Story-Comp-Guide.pdf