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Dept. of Health and Social Services kicks off Older Americans Month

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services kicks off Older Americans Month.

Older Americans Month is sponsored each year by the federal Administration for Community Living, which - as part of its mission - authorizes grant programs for community services for seniors.

This year’s theme is “Aging Unbound,” which Melissa Smith, Director of Delaware’s Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, says is about redefining aging.

“Certainly our older Americans are huge contributors to our economy, our society, and certainly our families and our history, so ‘Aging Unbound’ to us means taking a new look at what aging means, and looking to support those activities that can really lead to healthy, vibrant aging in our communities,” Smith says.

Smith says those include activities that encourage movement and strength training, social engagement activities, and anything that represents taking control.

“It could be from managing your own chronic disease, to taking care of your nutrition, to really taking on a new activity, hobby, or even career path in your older years.”

Smith notes the number of aging adults on the younger end is ballooning, so the demand for active community services for aging adults is in high demand.

Smith says the aging population continues to grow, around 2.5% each year, and by 2050, there will be more adults over 60 than there are kids under 18.

“With that, they bring a new demand for services," Smith says. "They are younger, older adults and so they are looking to stay active in their communities. So we see a need both for traditional services like home-delivered meals and in-home support, to more engaging activities that are going to be more appealing to younger, older adults.”

Smith says places like Cheer Community Center in Sussex County and the Modern Maturity Center in Dover will hold events for Older Americans Month.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.