AMES, Iowa — May is Older Americans Month and this year’s theme, “Unleash the Power of Age,” emphasizes the important role of older adults. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is unleashing the power of age with Mid Life & Beyond: The Whole Picture.
Eighty-eight of Iowa’s 99 counties are projected to have at least 20 percent of their population at age 65 and older by 2030. The growing number of adults reaching traditional retirement age and beyond presents new challenges and opportunities for local communities as well as the state as a whole, said Donna Donald, a family life program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.
The Mid Life & Beyond program provides opportunities for communities to enhance quality of life for Iowans who are mid life in age or beyond, Donald said.
“Mid Life & Beyond provides Baby Boomers and others — anyone 45 or older — an opportunity to explore several aspects of whole person wellness, including physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, occupational and financial concerns,” Donald said.
The multidisciplinary program gives communities voice through study circles, said family finance program specialist Ruth Freeman, who is the Mid Life & Beyond team co-leader.
“Study circles give people a chance to talk together to find ways to make their community a better place where people midlife and beyond will want to live. The conversations are directed by two local facilitators with 10 to 12 participants of various ages, incomes, occupations and community associations,” Freeman explained.
ISU Extension and Outreach will train a core of volunteer lifestyle guides to help participating communities access extension resources and carry out local plans generated through the study circles, Freeman said.
Those who are interested in bringing Mid Life & Beyond to their community may contact Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or Freeman at email@example.com. More information about the program also is available online at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/midlifeandbeyond/.
Every year since 1963, May has been the month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions and achievements, Donald noted.
“It is a proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to honor the value that elders continue to contribute to our communities,” she said. “Older Americans are productive, active and influential members of society.”
Donald noted that the U.S. population age 65 and older has increased from 35 million in 2000 to 41.4 million in 2011 — an 18 percent increase — and is projected to increase to 79.7 million in 2040.
“Today more than one in every eight of us — about 13 percent of the population — is an older American,” Donald said.