Each year on August 21, we celebrate World Senior Citizen’s Day, but this year the day takes on a whole new meaning. It’s more than a reminder to do something nice for the older adults in our lives – it’s a prime opportunity for communities to come together and build a more aging friendly world, especially during a particularly challenging year.
The global pandemic has given us a deeper understanding of what life is like for older adults who may experience loneliness on a regular basis as a result of limited social interaction outside our homes. This World Senior Citizen’s Day is a time to reflect on the aging experience and commit to making a difference for seniors in your life, community and around the world.
There are endless opportunities to show your appreciation and respect for older loved ones and other seniors who have paved the way. Whether you’re writing a letter to an aging family member or offering to help a neighbor with household chores, a small act of kindness can brighten the day of a senior.
Below are five ways you can give back, provide support and inspire change for older adults in your area, especially during the COVID-19 crisis:
Five ways you can help create an aging friendly world
1. Check in. Many seniors are experiencing a unique level of isolation and loneliness as a result of social distancing. While the overall circumstances may be out of your control, there are still simple things you can do to bring hope and meaning to someone’s day. For example, let an older adult in your life know they are loved and appreciated –despite the distance – with a phone call or driveway visit. Short, regular “visits” can make a great impact on an older adult’s mental health.
2. Support a senior-related cause. Less than 2 percent of funding from the nation’s largest grant makers is specifically focused on seniors – they need our help now more than ever. Consider donating to causes that provide critical resources to older adults such as food, shelter, medical care or transportation. For inspiration, check out the nonprofits involved with GIVE65.org, a 65-hour crowd-fundraising event that raises money for organizations and services supporting seniors.
3. Give back (time). Supporting local seniors doesn’t have to be strictly financial. Take advantage of free resources like Home Instead’s Readytocare.com – which makes it easy to offer help to senior neighbors with daily responsibilities like grocery shopping, yard work, mail collection or pet care. Or, lend your time and passions to a local service group that meets the needs of those in your area.
4. Advocate for older adults. COVID-19 has cast a bright light on the daily challenges that seniors face – and it’s crucial we keep the momentum going. Don't miss your chance to play a key role in helping increase the world’s capacity to care for our aging population. Take this opportunity to advocate on behalf of seniors on the issues that matter most to them. To prepare for these important discussions with your local and state representative, take advantage of free online resources such as the National Council on Aging’s page and type in advocacy toolkit.
5. Consider a new career. According to the United Nations, the global population over the age of 65 is expected to triple to 426 million by the year 2050. As a result of this rapid population shift, there will be an increasing need for more passionate and dedicated individuals in the industries that support the needs of older adults. If you’re interested in enhancing the quality of life for seniors, consider exploring a career like caregiving, where you can make a meaningful difference each and every day.
With many older adults remaining home for the foreseeable future, it’s important to remember that recognizing World Senior Citizen’s Day is one of the countless ways to pay it forward for seniors everywhere. When schedules return to normal, consider small ways to continue giving time and energy to support the older adults we know and love throughout the year.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.