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Celebrating Our Connections: Older Americans Month 2024

Group playing cards.

President John F. Kennedy declared the first Older Americans Month (then called Senior Citizens Month) in May 1963. In the official proclamation, he urged people and organizations “to cooperate in its observance by increasing community awareness of the problems faced by older men and women, strengthening services and opportunities to meet their special needs, giving recognition to their past and present contributions, and making this special month the beginning of continuing interest and activity on their behalf.” 

That tradition has carried on, and the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focused on helping older adults and people with disabilities live independently, currently leads the annual celebration of Older Americans Month. For the May 2024 event, ACL announced a theme of “Powered by Connection.” 

“We will explore the vital role that connectedness plays in supporting independence and aging in place by combatting isolation, loneliness, and other issues,” ACL said in a statement. 

In this article, we’ll look at the meaning behind this year’s theme, including the benefits of maintaining strong connections to others and how you can find resources to help. 

Social Connections and Health 

Throughout our lives, we rely on our social connections with family, friends, and others in our communities. We can form rich, meaningful relationships that give us a sense of belonging and make us feel appreciated. When we have those connections, we know there are people we can turn to if we need a hand around the house, a ride to an appointment, emotional support, or just someone to talk to.  

Those social bonds can become especially important as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research shows that social connectedness improves quality of life and results in lower levels of depression and anxiety. People who spend time engaging with others are more capable of recovering from stressful situations, making healthy choices about diet and exercise, and getting quality sleep.  

On the other hand, a lack of personal connections isn’t just bad for our emotional and psychological well-being, but our bodies as well. Studies have linked social isolation to higher risks of dementia, stroke, heart disease, and death from chronic diseases. Connecting with others during Older Americans Month and beyond could help you enjoy a healthier life for years to come. 

Activities to Form and Strengthen Connections 

Everyone has their preferred ways of staying in touch with loved ones and meeting new people; some of us are close with a small social circle while others like to spend time with a big, diverse group of friends. Either way, connectedness is about building the types of relationships that make you feel valued and supported. Reaching out to relatives and old friends or getting to know your neighbors could be a great start. 

If you’re interested in meeting new people or getting more involved in your community, there could be a range of activities to choose from in your area. Here are some possibilities to explore: 

  • Attend a class, workshop, musical performance, or discussion group. 
  • Find out if a local school or library is looking for older adults to share their experiences or read stories to young people. 
  • Participate in an event like a game night, karaoke party, or fundraiser. 
  • Get involved in a community garden. 
  • Volunteer for projects like cleaning up public spaces or collecting donations for people in need. 

How Your Health Insurance Can Help You Connect 

Most older Americans have health insurance either through Original Medicare, which is administered by the federal government, or a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance carrier.  

Medicare Advantage plans often have supplemental features that can lead to positive interactions with other people, such as gym memberships and fitness classes. Certain plans give you access to community centers where you can meet up with other members and take classes, either online or in person. Some even provide companion care, services where a helper visits your home to run errands, complete light chores, or just sit down for a chat.  

For many people, however, social interactions aren’t enough to overcome feelings of disconnection. If you’re struggling with changes to your mood and behavior, talk to your doctor about what steps to take. Anger, stress, sadness, anxiety, irritability, or loneliness might be signs that you would benefit from mental health care. Your Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage coverage can help with the costs of therapy or counseling from a variety of providers like psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health counselors, and family therapists. 

This year’s Older Americans Month is a great opportunity to strengthen the bonds you already have and to meet some new people. By finding the power in these connections, you can discover new experiences and find the support you need to live more independently. 

About GoHealth

GoHealth is a leading health insurance marketplace and Medicare-focused digital health company. Enrolling in a health insurance plan can be confusing for customers, and the seemingly small differences between plans can lead to significant out-of-pocket costs or lack of access to critical medicines and even providers. GoHealth combines cutting-edge technology, data science, and deep industry expertise to build trusted relationships with consumers and match them with the healthcare policy and carrier that is right for them. Since its inception, GoHealth has enrolled millions of people in Medicare plans and individual and family plans. For more information, visit