Older Americans Month highlights importance of social connections

Older Americans Month, which was first held in 1963, is recognized annually in May. This year’s theme is “Powered by Connection,” which acknowledges the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on our health and well-being.

Meals on Wheels and Feeding America’s nationwide network of hunger relief organizations support the campaign’s theme by raising awareness and showing support for the millions of seniors across the country who seek food assistance.

Older adults experiencing food insecurity can’t always get the healthy food they need.

This makes them more likely to have chronic health conditions like asthma and diabetes. They also may experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

FeedMore WNY currently provides home-delivered meals to more than 4,400 people who are age 60 and older, but the work is not limited to providing nutritional assistance.

“By fostering social connections, providing safety checks and delivering nutritious meals, older adults maintain better health outcomes, independence and the ability to stay in their own homes,” Kathy Graim, chief program officer, said. “We address food security, diet quality and social isolation.”

Here are a few tips from Meals on Wheels and Feeding America that may help you make a better connection with an older adult in need:

Share and be aware of the mental, physical, and emotional health benefits of social connection and how it contributes to overall well-being.

Promote resources that help older adults engage, like community events, social clubs, and volunteer opportunities.

Connect older adults with local services, such as transportation, that can help them overcome obstacles to achieving or maintaining meaningful relationships.