Our April showers will hopefully bring May flowers this year, but we are guaranteed at least one reason to celebrate the month’s arrival.

May is Older Americans Month, during which we simultaneously commemorate the contributions senior citizens have made to our country—for example, those who have served in the armed services—and bring awareness to the unique health and social needs that generation faces.ColorPrototype

President John F. Kennedy established “Senior Citizens Month” in 1963 when only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. At the time, about one third of our senior citizens lived in poverty and there were few programs and resources to help them prior to the Older Americans Act of 1969.

Today, roughly 50 million Americans are senior citizen. And, not only are today’s seniors expected to live longer than seniors did 50 years ago, the senior population is expected to more than double in the next 40 years.

The 2019 OAM, “Connect, Create, Contribute,” encourages us all to find ways to support services and programs—including those like Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island—that help seniors remain living independently in their own homes.

This month, you can:

Connect—with friends, family and services that support participation.

Create—through activities that promote health and personal enrichment.

Contribute—time, talent and life experience to benefit others.

Throughout the month, we’ll be highlighting ways you can help seniors in your life on our social media channels. We encourage you to share information using #OAM19 and #ConnectCreatContribute.

Also during May, we’ll be sharing information on National Arthritis Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.

Arthritis affects nearly half of our senior citizens and in extreme cases it is a contributing factor to our clients not being able to safely shop for or prepare a meal on their own.  The Arthritis Foundation has an immense bank of resources for those living with arthritis and their caregivers.

Since 1949, Mental Health Month raises public awareness of and support for those living with mental illness, their families and friends, and resources available to help them live healthy lives.

Social isolation is a problem many of our clients face and it can lead to depression and anxiety. We strive to help our clients improve their mental health through daily visits with a trained volunteer. We also have a Pet Food Program that provides food for our clients cherished dog and cat companions, who add great company and comfort to their lives.

This year’s theme, #4Mind4Body will specifically look at how animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance and social connections as boosters to mental health and general wellness.