Older Americans Month
Never Too Old to Play is the theme for this year's Older Americans Month, previously known as “Senior Citizens Month,” established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. At that time, only 17 million Americans had lived past the age of 65, and a third of those subsisted in poverty with few programs to help meet their needs. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month, marking May as a time to celebrate those aged 65 and older through ceremonies, events, and public recognition. Since its inception, every president has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking the entire nation to pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.
This celebration shines light on the essential role older adults play in sharing their experiences, understanding, and knowledge with other generations in a variety of meaningful ways, including in the workplace. As the average lifespan increases, so does the amount of years the average person works. By the end of 2002, workers in the labor force aged 55 to 64 increased to 62.9 percent, the highest level of the postwar era. Many employers have recognized the benefits of hiring older workers, and are utilizing the skills that they bring to the table—experience, knowledge, work ethic, and commitment. As the agency charged with protecting the civil rights of employees, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights actively investigates complaints of age discrimination (ages 40-69) in the workplace and holds employers accountable under the law.
This year’s festivities acknowledge the value older adults continue to bring to Missouri communities through their dedicated involvement in social and faith groups, service organizations, and many pastimes.
- OlderAmericansMonth.org lists great ways to get involved in the celebration, from hosting a “Day of Play” to using tools like posters, newsletters, and website banner-ads to promote the honoring of older Americans.
- Elections for Missouri's Silver-Haired Legislature take place in May across the state at local area agencies on aging nutrition or senior centers. The SHL is a formally-elected body of citizens aged 60 and older that promotes conscientious legislative advocacy for Missouri's older adults. All members are volunteers who serve without pay. To find out more, visit your local agency on aging.
Local agencies on aging in Missouri include the following:
- Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving Atchison, Nodaway, Worth, Harrison, Putnam, Holt, Andrew, Gentry, Buchanan, DeKalb, Clinton, Davies, Caldwell, Grundy, Livingston, Sullivan, Linn, and Mercer counties
- Northeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving Adair, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, and Warren counties
- Mid-America Regional Council, serving Platte, Clay, Ray, Jackson, and Cass counties
- Care Connection, serving Carroll, Chariton, Lafayette, Saline, Johnson, Pettis, Bates, Henry, Vernon, St. Clair, Cedar, Benton, and Hickory counties
- Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Howard, Laclede, Maries, Miller, Morgan, Moniteau, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski, and Washington counties
- Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, serving St. Charles, St. Louis County, Franklin, and Jefferson counties
- St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, serving the City of St. Louis
- Region X Area Agency on Aging, serving Barton, Jasper, Newton, and McDonald counties
- Southwest Missouri Office on Aging, serving Barry, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Douglas, Greene, Howell, Lawrence, Oregon, Ozark, Polk Shannon, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster, and Wright counties
- Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, serving St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Perry, Iron, Reynolds, Madison, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Wayne, Carter, Ripley, Butler, Stoddard, Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, and Dunklin counties
Useful information for older Missourians and their families may be found by searching the following:
- The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services has information on Independent Living, Senior Employment, the Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Program, and much more.
- The Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging provides older residents with details on a variety of subjects, including home-delivered meals, fall prevention and wellness programs, rent and utility assistance, and support groups, in its Search for Services section.
- To find help in your community, log on to Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging, connecting you to services for older adults and their families. You can search by location or by topic, including Alzheimer's Disease, Legal Assistance, and Volunteerism. You can also utilize this service by calling 1-800-677-1116.
- Read about Home & Community-Based Long Term Care, Elder Rights Protection, and many other topics of interest online at the Department of Health & Human Services' Administration on Aging website.