The United States is nearing the start of a tremendous demographic shift. Beginning in 2011, the first of 78 million baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) will start transitioning into retirement, kicking off an expansion in the number of elderly people that will continue for decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of every nine baby boomers will live to be at least age 90.
Our Nation will benefit in many ways from a larger population of older adults, a group that constitutes one of our greatest resources. Older adults support our society by providing millions of hours of volunteer, community, and civic service through formal organizations and a variety of informal arrangements. They enhance our communities and personal lives by sharing and transferring knowledge of cultures, values, and life experiences among generations. Thankfully, the contributions of older adults will continue to flourish in the coming years, since older citizens of today and tomorrow promise to be among the most active and engaged older adult populations in our Nation’s history.
An expanding older adult population also spotlights our responsibility to ensure the well-being of our older citizens. As a Nation, we are working diligently to address older adults’ unique health and long-term care challenges. The thousands of professionals, caregivers, and volunteers that make up the National Aging Services Network have been collaborating in innumerable ways for decades to fulfill the mission of the Older Americans Act. Led by the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Network is now engaged in modernizing systems of care to provide consumers with more control over their lives.
May is Older Americans Month, a great time to bring attention to the issues that affect older adults. This year’s theme is “Working Together for Strong, Healthy, and Supportive Communities,” which speaks to the opportunities we have to create better care and reinforce healthier societies for all ages. Working together, our communities can improve older adults’ overall quality of life by helping them:
- Make behavioral changes in their lifestyles that can reduce risk of disease, disability, and injury.
- Obtain the tools they need to make informed decisions about, and gain better access to, existing health and long-term care options in their communities.
- Have more options to avoid placement in nursing homes and remain at home as long as possible
Americans of all ages and backgrounds can celebrate Older Americans Month. Contact your local Agency on Aging and volunteer for activities in your area, promote community, state and national efforts to serve older adults, and find ways to enrich the lives of the older adults who touch your life. By working together we can improve the health and well being of our Nation’s older adults and pave the way for future generations.