Along with the potential health perils of aging, seniors face a more subtle problem when getting older: ageism. Ageism includes stereotypes that seniors are infirm, invisible or unemployable and can contribute to seniors feeling excluded or isolated. It can also impact happiness, mental health and general wellbeing.

One of many different ways we can combat ageism is by ensuring seniors are included in our communities. That’s what we’re working towards here at Cultivate. This May, we’re taking it up a notch and celebrating Older Americans Month.

Older Americans Month is an annual recognition event that highlights the importance of seniors in our communities. It’s hosted by the Administration for Community Living and aims to build strong, inclusive communities across the country. As you may have noticed, we’re big fans of seniors and community. We’re excited to have an extra reason to celebrate both this May.

Each year, Older Americans Month has a different theme. This May, it’s Connect, Create, Contribute. Whether you’re inspired by this year’s theme or have your own motivation for creating an inclusive community, we’re all stronger when we come together!

Connect: Feeling included starts with connection. We communicate, interact and engage to form friendships and communities. This May, seek out ways that you can connect with senior friends, family and acquaintances. Seek out organizations (like us!) that are working to foster connection. From volunteering to grabbing coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile, connection is the first step in helping everyone feel included.

Create: A successful community has the ability to grow and change together. This May, create something new for you and your neighborhood. If every one of us dedicated time this month to creativity and growth, think of what we could build together! We have a wealth of opportunities for creativity in our area with multiple Senior Centers, libraries and museums. Take a class and learn something new, join a local group and make new friends, or brainstorm a creative way to give back. Not only will you enrich your community, you’ll be taking care of yourself, too.

Contribute: We all have something to contribute to our community. Whether that’s a unique talent, time spent giving back or a story to share, your contributions are important. It’s also important to be recognized for your good work. Take some time this month to recognize the contributions that you or a senior you know make in our community.

A community is more than just a cluster of buildings, roads and people. And building an inclusive community takes effort to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. This May (and every day) let’s work to ensure that all seniors feel included. By recognizing, appreciating, and engaging seniors in our community, we combat ageism and the detrimental effects it can have on older Americans and our community as a whole.

How will you celebrate Older Americans Month?