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Older Americans Month: Communities of Strength

In tough times, communities find strength in people—and people find strength in their communities. In the past year, we’ve seen this time and again in our community as friends, neighbors, and businesses have found new ways to support each other.

In our community, older adults are a key source of this strength. Through their experiences, successes, and difficulties, they have built resilience that helps them to face new challenges. When communities tap into this, they become stronger too.

Each May, the Administration for Community Living leads the celebration of Older Americans Month (OAM). This year’s theme is Communities of Strength, recognizing the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.

Strength is built and shown not only by bold acts, but also small ones of day-to-day life—a conversation shared with a friend, working in the garden, trying a new recipe, or taking time for a cup of tea on a busy day. And when we share these activities with others—even virtually or by telling about the experience later—we help them build resilience too.

This year, we will celebrate OAM by encouraging community members to share their experiences. Together, we can find strength—and create a stronger future.

Here are some ways to share and connect:

  • Look for joy in the everyday: Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them. Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media, or call a friend or family member to share a happy moment or to say thank you.
  • Reach out to neighbors: Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a home cooked meal.
  • Build new skills: Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community. Have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone, even casually.
  • Share your story: There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow. Interviewing family, friends, and neighbors can open up new conversations and strengthen our connections.

When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and talents share experiences—through action, story, or service—we help build strong communities. And that’s something to celebrate!
Stories build community and connect us even when we can’t be physically together.

Recalling adventures with childhood friends, that family weekend at the beach, a teacher who helped guide your life, or how you learned you would become a grandparent—all of those stories connect you with your past and the people who have mattered along the way. They help people you love get to know you better and feel closer to you.

Looking back at how we got through other tough times can help us manage this challenging time. Sharing what we love about our friends and family members helps them feel stronger and more connected.

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Administration for Community Living.

Julien’s Journal, the Dubuque area lifestyle magazine, is a monthly regional feature magazine for and about Dubuque and the tri-state region.

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