Guest blogger: Elena Muller, pictured above with a Care Receiver, is one of The Center’s guest bloggers. Elena has been a volunteer with The Center for Volunteer Caregiving since 2013, She has helped several Care Receivers and most recently began helping with Prelude Respite, a no-fee program designed for Caregivers.
Older. Americans. Month. Three separate words but when combined they comprise a month of awareness, and recognition. Awareness is an important concept. By labeling an entire month devoted to “Older Americans”, it makes us all stop and think. Who do we know that is an “Older American”? Parents, relatives, friends, neighbors and one day, ourselves. When situations hit close to home, we tend to recognize them from a more personal, and a more significant way than we do when the situation is more removed.
Becoming aware of who the Older Americans are in our lives and our community helps us to recognize and understand the needs that arise when people reach a certain age. Needs of the older population can vary greatly and aren’t always as predictable as we think. Although Older Americans are more likely to experience illness and disability, not all experience these issues. Not all Older Americans have walkers, or dementia, or vision and hearing problems. Some of the needs are simply companionship and recognizing what they ARE able to do.
Recognizing the needs of this population is vital to helping the current and future older Americans. Recognition that this population has a lot to offer, experience, wisdom, and they are also willing to learn new things. These special Americans are vital to our society and simply wish to be loved and remain relevant. Anything from companionship, to a new job, to involvement in activities-like art projects-are examples of what some Older Americans need and enjoy. All too often in our society, Older Americans are thought of in passing and their needs are pushed to the back burner.
Organizations including The Center for Volunteer Caregiving serve Older Americans by both increasing awareness and recognition. The Center not only advocates for Older Americans, but work is being done to integrate all members of the community to accompany and assist Older Americans. Being part of this organization is quite fulfilling for volunteers that keep The Center going.
I was a part of The Center’s “Movie Daze” event last month. I drove one of The Center’s Care Receivers for a great night out with dinner and a movie. Who doesn’t love that? We should all embrace Older Americans, we know them, we love them and we will one day become them. Older Americans month is about awareness and recognition for all. This delightful population made us who we are today and that should not be forgotten.