In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared August 21st National Senior Citizen Day. As the oldest President to be sworn in at the time, his advocacy for valuing seniors did not go unnoticed. Reagan declared National Senior Citizen Day to recognize the significant impact that older adults have on society while raising awareness about important issues that older adults face, such as ageism and health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Older adults make up a considerable part of the population. In fact, 34.8% of the population is aged 65 or older, according to U.S. census data. While many older adults experience more physical and cognitive changes as they age, that doesn’t stop them from continuing to impact our society. They have continued to prove that they are just as capable as any other community member to do just about anything. Harriette Thompson ran her first marathon at 76 years old and became the oldest person to complete a marathon at 92. Herschel McGriff became the oldest person to compete in a NASCAR competition at the age of 90 in 2018. As they continue to defy stereotypes about their aging generation, older adults become increasingly involved in social media and technology. This means that there are more ways to connect with your loved ones than ever. So, celebrating National Senior Citizen Day is easier than ever before.
However, the way families celebrate this year may look a little different from because of COVID-19. Older adults were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, both physically and mentally. Because many care facilities had to shut their doors to visitors and families separated themselves from loved ones to protect them, rates of isolation and loneliness increased drastically in the older adult population.
Never Too Old To Dream
As COVID continues to surge, this can only mean more extended periods of alone time for seniors. This is the perfect time to remind them of their accomplishments in life and how much they have impacted their family, friends, and community. Also, remind them that they still have much to offer and even ask what’s on their bucket list! Help them make a plan to get some of those items checked off, giving them a sense of purpose. You can encourage friends and family to get involved in helping them complete these dreams. Doing so may decrease some of the depression and isolation they might be experiencing.
How to Celebrate National Senior Citizen Day
Some ways to celebrate are:
- Call or video chat with an older adult in your life and catch up with them
- Give them a card or present (or send one through the mail)
- Recreate a photo from the past
- Create a memory book of all the special times you’ve had together
- Take them to their favorite restaurant
Consider volunteering at a local assisted living, memory care, or nursing home facility if you cannot be with your loved ones this National Senior Citizen Day. Many residents have little to no visitors and appreciate getting to interact with young people. Sitting down with them and having a conversation to learn more about their life is one of the best things you can do to make them feel valued. Volunteering with local organizations that work directly for older adults is another way to get involved. Examples of these are at a local senior center or Meals on Wheels.
Teaching your loved ones who aren’t as familiar with technology how to communicate can help alleviate some of the negative emotions that come with staying in more. This can be an activity you can do together to celebrate National Senior Citizen Day!
Remind them that they are loved and appreciated
As our loved one’s age, spending time with them becomes even more critical. The new memories you can create with them as their old ones fade will help them enjoy these years of their life in peace. Take this National Senior Citizen Day to remind them that they are loved and acknowledge their significant contributions to the world.
How Tribute will Celebrate National Senior Citizens Day
For this year’s National Senior Citizen Day, we will be hosting an ice cream social for our residents featuring banana splits! We will also be presenting about people who made a big difference in their age group and how they have shaped and changed the world. We will be encouraging residents to share their life stories with us as well. We will be recording the presentation for later viewing.