May is full of honors

May is Older Americans Month. It is a national recognition calendar event that’s meant to highlight topics, people and important issues.

I appreciate older Americans daily, as I’m sure many of us do. I appreciate them not just because of my job, but for their wisdom, their history, their contributions.

I especially appreciate and honor older women who came before me and championed the way in sports and business. I stand on the shoulders of so many of those women.

Warren has a rich history of the Suffragette movement. If you’ve never visited the Harriet Taylor Upton House or the Women’s Park on Mahoning Avenue, you are missing knowing rich history that has shaped women’s equality.

Our calendar is packed with novelty or recognition days, from jobs and people to pets and food. They are meant to either take a moment for appreciation and gratitude to quirky fun and trivia. This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I want to wish happiness and thanks to all moms.

For fun, check out brownielocks.com or timeanddate.com for recognition days. Who comes up with these “national days?” Who serves on the decision committee? How does one submit an idea?

Take, for example, last Friday, which was national wear two different shoes day. I’m convinced this day was the invention of people who get dressed in the dark and have worn mismatched shoes to work. I’ve done it. It’s funny until you have a meeting with someone important or have a media interview. Lunch plans go out the window in order to make it home to change the misfit apparel.

But older Americans are so important that our nation has devoted an entire month to honor them.

The national theme this year is “Connect Create Contribute.” It’s a bit of a paradox that we need to have a month to bring awareness to older Americans. In Trumbull County, about 30 percent of the population are 60 or older.

Our older community members continue to play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods. Staying connected can reduce isolation, prevent abuse and neglect, and give older adults better emotional and physical health, according to the Ohio Department of Aging.

This is the perfect time to reconnect with older loved ones and neighbors. Share their pictures or stories on your social media feeds. If you see someone sitting alone in a restaurant, invite her/him to join you. Pay your appreciation forward.

While it’s not a national recognition day, May 20 is moving day for the Area Agency on Aging 11 from our Eastwood Mall offices to 1030 N. Meridian Road in Austintown.

It also will be “change your name day,” as we will assume our new identity as Direction Home of Eastern Ohio.

We have gone through a couple of name changes since we were created in 1976, but the names usually had the words “agency” or “aging” in them. We are aging from the minute we’re born. And after a certain milestone, my changing hair color and achy joints serve as a reminder — as if that’s needed.

Direction Home of Eastern Ohio will remain under the Ohio Department of Aging as one of 12 agencies in Ohio. Some of the reasons behind our name change are that 27 percent of our business provides services for people with disabilities under the age of 60. We also have grown our business line with private contracts, and plan on extending that product growth beyond aging.

But most importantly, our new name honors our common purpose of providing choices for people to live independently in the place they want to call home.

Solley is the director of communications at the Area Agency on Aging 11 Inc. For referrals or services, call the main office at 330-505-2300. Email Solley at l.solley@aaa11.org.

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