Older Americans Month
May is designated as Older American’s Month. What does that mean to you? What does that mean to us as a society?
This month should ideally provide an opportunity for our older citizens to connect with each other in their generational cohort as well as to connect with individuals of other age groups. The Administration for Community Living (ACL), who leads the nation’s observance of Older American’s Month, announced this year’s theme for the month as “Connect, Create, Contribute”. Older Americans are encouraged to connect with those individuals who are important in their lives and to contribute to causes that resonate with them. They are encouraged to create by taking part in any variety of activities that promote wellness, enjoyment of life and enrichment. Finally, they should take part in activities in which they share their knowledge, talent and life experience with others, they contribute to the betterment of others and society as a whole.
As a freshly minted nurse, I found myself working in a long-term care facility, what is often thought of as a “nursing home.” This is not where I wanted to be. I did not relate to the residents there, I could not see what I had in common with them or what I could give them. On my first day out of a brief orientation I was assigned to a hall on which Helen M. was a resident. Helen must have seen the frustrated young woman and nurse that I was. She quickly befriended me and over the days that followed, shared her life story of coming to this country from Europe, working for a wealthy family by cleaning their house, eventually meeting a man, getting married, having a family of her own and then grandchildren. She shared her dreams as a young girl and her life experiences—I was enthralled. To this day, I wonder if I gave Helen as much as she gave me. She connected with me and supported the young struggling nurse that I was. She gave of herself by doing all she could to help me grow my new talents. She created a warm environment for me every time I entered her room to give care. On this day, and every day, I celebrate the fact that she came into my life and shared so much wisdom and joy with me.
Allow the Older Americans in your life to share their knowledge and life experiences, not just in May, but be mindful of their contributions to us individually and to society every day. Older Americans have volumes to share with us.
To read more about Older American’s Month, visit the Administration for Community Living.