Celebrating Older Americans Month and Partnership

May 31, 2022
Edwin Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging

Older adults play vital, positive roles in our communities – as family members, friends, mentors, volunteers, civic leaders, members of the workforce, and more. We know that diverse communities are strong communities and that everyone benefits when people can stay involved and included for as long as possible. 

But just as each of us is unique, so too is how we want to engage and participate – there is no “right” way to age. That’s why ACL chose Age My Way as the theme for Older Americans Month 2022. Throughout the month, we have shared how to support and plan for aging in place, highlighting that we can all:

  • Explore supports and services we may need in the future, such as long-term care.
  • Take part in and give back to our communities through employment, volunteering, and civic participation.
  • Learn about options that can support our independence, like home modifications, assistive technology, and accessible transportation.
  • Connect with others to stay socially engaged and combat isolation and loneliness.

As I reflect on the importance of these considerations, there is something else I would add to the list – partnership. I believe it is essential that we work together – at every level, from neighborhoods to federal agencies – to support independence, combat ageism, and ensure that all Americans have opportunities to age in place, their way. At ACL, we are doing just that.

ACL’s recently established partnership with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Community Services (OCS) is allowing us to explore shared goals of the aging and community services networks. It was through this relationship that I had the pleasure of joining OCS Director Lanikque Howard, Ph.D. on a virtual visit to the North Central Idaho Area Agency on Aging (AAA) this month.

Co-located with an ACF-funded Community Action Agency (CAA), the North Central Idaho AAA stands as a model for the spirit of community collaboration. During the virtual visit, CAA Executive Director Lisa Stoddard and AAA Director Kristin Schmidt shared how they have worked deliberately to seek out and collaborate with other community-based groups that share their goal of enhancing the lives of older adults. Their presentation highlighted the benefits of fostering local partnerships to fill gaps, strengthen existing services, and meet diverse needs. Their work is a truly inspiring example of what is possible when we partner to achieve better outcomes for all.

In her remarks during the visit, Dr. Howard shared that both ACF and ACL are committed to working together to identify opportunities and resources to connect our networks. Our goal is to maximize the impact of our collective efforts to meet the needs of older people and provide them with the supports and services they need to remain integral, vibrant members of our communities. I echo Dr. Howard’s words and look forward to our continued collaboration in the years to come.

And so, as Older Americans Month comes to a close, I challenge each of us in the aging network to commit to forming new partnerships and to realize the effectiveness and efficiency that they can bring to our efforts to support community living for all Americans as we age.

In case you missed it...

Age My Way! Older Americans Month

Last modified on 05/31/2022

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