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Older adults play vital, positive roles in our communities – as family members, friends, mentors, volunteers, civic leaders, members of the workforce, and more.

Just as every person is unique, so too is how they age and how they choose to do it – and there is no “Right” way. That’s why the theme for Older Americans Month 2022 is Age My Way.

Every May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads the celebration of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme focuses on how older adults can age in their communities, living independently for as long as possible and participating in ways they choose.

While Age My Way will look different for each person, here are common things everyone can consider:

¯ Planning: Think about what you will need and want in the future, from home and community-based services to community activities that interest you. Share your opinions with Office for Aging Services, Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations to ensure our plans for public money will meet your needs as well as other older adults.

¯ Engagement: Remain involved and contribute to your community through work, volunteer, and / or civic participation opportunities. Explore local opportunities by calling our NY Connects Helpline at 716-753-4582.

¯ Access: Make home improvements and modifications, use assistive technologies, and customize supports to help you better age in place. If you need help, OFAS has tools to help you evaluate your home to ensure safety, access, and provide suggestions on how to prevent falls. OFAS also works with CHRIC and other home improvement organizations to assist older adults with critical home repairs and access issues including connections to funding options.

¯ Connection: Maintain social activities and relationships to combat social isolation and stay connected to your community. We all learned how critical this is during the pandemic to stay socially connected, OFAS and others are working to restart in-person activities as well as connect older adults to technology options so they can stay connected at home and still safely engage with other people.

This year, the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services is excited to celebrate OAM with our partners in the aging community. One of our partners, the United Senior Council, will be holding their annual trivia event to celebrate OAM at the North Harmony Senior Center on Thursday, May 12, at 1 pm Teams of one to three people will compete for $ 50, $ 75, and $ 100 prizes. Entry fee is $ 5 / team and all older adults are invited to attend. Be prepared for fun and laughter with MC Dennis Webster from WJTN. Call Office for Aging Services 716-753-4471 for more information.

The United Senior Council is a membership organization made up of representatives of all senior groups in the county. If your group is not a member, you are welcome to join. Membership is $ 5 / person or $ 10 / group and you will receive a monthly newsletter highlighting their programs and activities. USC meets monthly at different host clubs to share information about senior club activities, to plan joint events, and to advocate for the needs of older adults through their connection with OFAS and membership in Statewide Senior Action. They also work together to educate seniors on issues affecting older adults like Caregiving, Medicare, SNAP / HEAP, and dementia. This summer USC will be working with OFAS and Senator Borrello’s Office to host a symposium on Scams and Financial Exploitation of Older Adults to help their fellow seniors recognize and avoid scams as well as get connected to resources should someone become a victim of a scam. The tentative date is July 15, location is TBA.

Chautauqua Adult Day Services, another aging partner, will be celebrating Older Americans Month with a grand re-opening / open house on May 18 at their Jamestown location on West Fifth Street. The public is welcome to attend. Chautauqua Adult Day Services is a critical service for older adults and caregivers who want to age in place in the community but do not want to be isolated alone at home all day. Chautauqua Adult Day Services offers daily activities, crafts, games, meals, exercise, and community outings. They also host special events and celebrations like their annual picnic at Midway Park and Hispanic Heritage Celebration. The agency is supported by funding from the Office for Aging Services as well as the United Way.

Diverse communities are strong communities. Ensuring that older adults remain involved and included in our communities for as long as possible benefits everyone. Please join the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services in strengthening our community by helping and celebrating the older adults in your life. For more information, visit the official Older Americans Month website at www.acl.gov/oam/2022 or call NY Connects at 716-753-4471.

Dr. Mary Ann Spanos is Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Director.



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