Since 1963, May has been designated as Older Americans Month.

Established by the Administration for Community Living (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), the recognition is just one way to reflect upon and honor all that older adults contribute to our families and communities.

President Lyndon B Johnson signing the Older Americans Act in 1965This year, the theme is “Get into the Act,” a nod to the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Older Americans Act was passed the same year as Medicare. It initially focused on small grants to state agencies for funding of social services programs. Over time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible. Services include home-delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, community-based assistance, preventive health services and elder abuse prevention.

In his remarks at the signing of the Act, Johnson made a prediction:

“I am hopeful, as I know and believe that the Congress is hopeful, that this (law) will permit us to find greater uses for the skills and the wisdom and the experience that is found in the maturity of our older citizens. The importance of meeting this challenge just cannot be overstated. At present, 1.5 million Americans reach age 65 each year—1 ½ million. Since 1900 the population of persons in our population age 65 and over has already doubled. What a tribute that is to our medical profession. And you haven’t seen anything yet.”

The President was spot on. We hadn’t. According to The State of Aging in America 2013, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 3.6 million Americans turn 65 each year. That’s 10,000 people a day.

Later in his address, Johnson affirmed something that Oasis has championed all along.

“These older generations need to participate in what we are doing, and, as a Nation, we can profit from their participation.”

Successful aging. Engagement. Oasis.

The Oasis mission is to promote successful aging through a three-fold approach: lifelong learning, healthy living and social engagement. Founded in 1982 and based in St. Louis, the non-profit organization is now active in over 50 cities across 25 states and serves more than 52,000 individuals each year.

The Oasis vision is to see that adults age 50 and older across the country have opportunities to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Check out Oasis and see where you fit in!

Barbara Bluiett, Oasis volunteer and donor