During the month of May, as we have since 1963 when President John F. Kennedy introduced the first Older Americans Month proclamation, we pause to recognize the important role older adults play in the lives of our families and our communities.
This year the theme is “Communities of Strength,” recognizing the strength of older adults and the Aging Network (a national network of federal, state, and local agencies), with focus on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities.
Older adults have built resilience and strength over their lives through success, failures, joys, and difficulties. In his 2021 Older Americans Month proclamation, President Joe Biden noted, “We celebrate older Americans and the key role they play in sharing the wisdom and experience that inform today’s decisions and actions and foster the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.”
From the White House in Washington, D.C., to our local Office of Aging in Lancaster, we celebrate, honor, and support the lives of older adults each and every day.
The Office of Aging is located at the Lancaster County Government Center, 150 N. Queen St. Its staff works to connect older residents with information and an array of services such as in-home assistance, home-delivered meals, employment training and job opportunities, support for caregivers, protective services, assistance with Medicare questions, and a wide range of health and wellness activities.
Recently, the Office of Aging established its’ next Four-Year Strategic Plan for the period October 2020-September 2024. Based on feedback from over 620 community members, priority areas of focus were identified, and over 35 specific goals were established. You might be interested to know the top three recommendations:
- Expand our visibility in the community;
- Prioritize outreach efforts to underserved populations;
- Establish best practices to combat loneness and social isolation.
Here are some of the initiatives under way for each of those priorities:
1. Expand our visibility in the community:
- Collaborate with the City of Lancaster and Lancaster Downtowners to arrange group presentations on agency services;
- Significantly expand website content and updating it more frequently;
- Increase the agency’s social media presence by establishing a Facebook page.
2. Outreach efforts to underserved populations:
- Partner with local churches and community organizations who support limited-English-speaking senior populations to provide information and access to agency services;
- Participate in LGBTQ Expos and group events to provide information and access to agency services;
- Work closely with the Aging and Disability Resource Center to strengthen our relationships with local disability partners to provide information and access to services.
3. Combat loneliness and social isolation:
- Utilize technology to implement programs/activities and engage those seniors who are socially isolated.
These represent only the top three areas of focus: Greater detail is available in the full plan.
While the month of May is officially designated as Older American Month, we at the Lancaster County Office of Aging recognize the value of our older adults and celebrate them every day of the year.
Happy Older Americans Month!