May is Older Americans Month. The Administration for Community Living (ACL), which leads the celebration each year, announced that “Age My Way” is the 2022 theme. According to ACL, this year’s theme focuses on how older adults can age in their communities, live independently for as long as possible, and participate in ways they choose.

Today, many older adults are living longer than their parents or grandparents. However, there remains an old-fashioned belief among some people that growing older means it’s time to slow down, step back from things, and be less involved. This is a myth that needs to change!

Studies have shown that staying connected, remaining active and socially-engaged are key elements of thriving while aging. Just as a nutritious diet and regular exercise influence long-term health, maintaining positive social connections plays a key role in overall health. Individuals who lack social connections are at greater risk of experiencing depression and cognitive decline.

There many ways that older adults can stay connected to and involved in their communities.

Local libraries and Councils on Aging (COAs) are good sources of information pertaining to various activities, events and groups that may be of interest to older adults. Libraries may offer book clubs, technology classes, special guest presentations and more. COAs provide programs, workshops, lectures and other fun activities designed to enhance quality of life. All of these activities can help to build social connections, develop new friendships and stay involved.

 Other ways to participate in the community include getting outdoors for some low impact exercise, by taking a walk with a friend or neighbor. Try your hand at gardening, learn a new hobby or consider attending an exercise class such as Tai Chi. Some classes may even be held outdoors.

Volunteering is another way to stay connected to others and your community. Volunteer opportunities may be found at food pantries, places of worship, and animal shelters to name just a few. Some organizations even offer virtual volunteer opportunities.

Community Dining Sites, located at some COAs and Housing Authorities, provide older adults with nutritious hot meals as well as opportunities to socialize with their peers.

 There are a number of ways that homebound older adults can stay connected. Older adults who are unable to attend a Community Dining Site, or who are unable to prepare nutritious meals at home, may benefit from receiving home-delivered meals (also known as Meals on Wheels). These healthy meals, which are delivered Monday through Friday, enable recipients to remain independent; home-delivery also provides an important connection to the community and serves as a safety check.

Another way for homebound individuals to stay connected with their community is through online classes and activities offered through local libraries and COAs. Most libraries offer
e-books and adult education online. Some feature arts and crafts classes, world travel guides and more.

Aging in place means remaining in and staying involved in your community. There are countless ways to do so! Old Colony Elder Services (OCES), a private, non-profit organization designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, provides essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living. For more information about volunteering, Community Dining, Meals on Wheels, housing options and other programs to help you age in place, visit our website.