Let's Celebrate: August 21st is Senior Citizens Day in the U.S.

Senior Care

In the U.S., National Senior Citizens Day is celebrated each year on August 21st. America’s seniors have been recognized on this date since 1988, when Ronald Reagan selected it for the occasion. 

On Senior Citizens Day, we acknowledge and appreciate the elderly members of our society and the contributions they’ve made to both our communities at large and our individual lives. In honor of senior citizens across the country, today’s blog post outlines some of the more common issues faced by American seniors today, discusses ways we can all show kindness toward and appreciation for the seniors in our communities, and offers some suggestions around how you might choose to celebrate the special seniors in your life.

Celebrate the seniors you love on Senior Citizens Day by making sure they know how much they mean to you. Share a favorite memory, thank them for all that they’ve done for you, acknowledge the important role(s) they continue to play in your life, or talk about the ways they’ve inspired you. 

Some ways you might wish to show appreciation for your senior loved ones:

  • Give them a call. If you can’t see your loved one in person, take some time out of your day to chat with them. If you’re able to video chat, do so - it’ll probably mean a lot to them to see you and your family members. 

  • Cook their favorite meal, or order dinner in for them. If you aren’t able to see each other because of COVID-19, sending a meal to their home is a great treat for the time being.

  • Send a card, whether by snail mail or e-mail. Homemade cards from grandkids will probably be particularly treasured, especially if they include some recent photographs. 

  • Make up a digital or physical scrapbook featuring some of your favorite memories with your senior loved one. 

  • Send flowers or another special gift that they wouldn’t be likely to purchase for themselves. 

At this time, as we continue to live with the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing are two of the best things we can all do for the seniors in our communities. Seniors face a higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms, so wearing masks and making an effort to stay six feet away from seniors who are not in our families or in our care are impactful steps we can take to help keep the elderly members of our society safe and healthy. 

There are also many everyday ways for us to be compassionate and supportive toward seniors. Some of these acts aren’t possible during this time, as we continue to prioritize physical distancing, but with a bit of ingenuity and caution, others are! 

You might choose to support seniors by… 

  • Offering to mow a senior neighbor’s lawn in the summer, and/or offering to shovel their driveway or sidewalk in the winter. 

  • Opening doors for seniors in your community, and holding elevator doors.

  • Smiling at seniors - or, if wearing a mask, waving instead. 

  • Getting your flu shot. Seniors can suffer from very serious bouts of influenza; just like with COVID-19, we want to try and protect the seniors in our families and communities during flu season. 

  • Providing assistance with carrying heavy bags or boxes - be sure to ask before helping out. 

  • Letting the seniors in your life know about e-mail and telephone scams so they can protect themselves, and helping them with technological questions. 

Many American seniors have “at least one” chronic health condition, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). You can help your senior loved ones manage chronic illnesses by assisting them in following their doctor’s guidance and treatment plans. If you wish to help American seniors dealing with chronic conditions, consider donating to or volunteering with organizations that address common chronic conditions, like the American Heart Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, or the American Diabetes Association.

Another common health issue seniors face is the risk of falls, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes as “a threat to the health of older adults.” The CDC has a list of fall prevention strategies on their website, which you can discuss and implement with your senior loved ones. You can also consider places in your community (staircases, uneven sidewalks, inaccessible pathways, etc.) where the CDC’s recommendations could help improve the safety of all seniors, and bring these areas to the attention of local leadership.

According to data from 2018, 7.3% of America’s senior population - that’s 5.3 million people - experienced food insecurity, “the disruption of food intake because of lack of money and other resources.” You can help seniors in America gain food security by donating to organizations like Feeding America, and donating to or volunteering at your local food bank or food delivery service.

We also know that seniors experience mental health struggles. The CDC’s research suggests 20% of adults over age fifty-five “experience some type of mental health concern.” According to the CDC, one of the key risk factors for seniors developing depression is a lack of various kinds of social support. We can help the seniors in both our families and communities by providing them with social support ourselves, and by making sure there are resources in our communities set up to do so as well.

The past few months have been difficult for all of us, but we still have things to celebrate! This Senior Citizens Day, make the day a good one for your senior loved ones, think about how you might help seniors in your community and throughout the country, and if you can, make a donation or sign up with an organization that needs volunteers. Let’s make this day and the days ahead brighter for our senior citizens.