For the third year running, at the request of Lifeforce in Later Years/LiLY, the NY State Assembly in June 2014 passed a resolution proclaiming October 1st to be Love An Elder Day in the state of New York, coinciding with the UN’s International Day to Honor Older Persons.
Older seniors, the fastest growing segment of the population, are absent in media, lack respect in our culture, and the vast majority are not living with family, but instead are alone. Through a strong and positive message demonstrating the vital role of neighbors and community action – in caring for the very old, Love an Elder Day gives needed attention to a burgeoning social crisis. In these times, when families often live hours away from oldest relatives and when our eldercare system is sub-optimal, the role of “community” and “simple acts of kindness” are proven to vastly improve the daily lives of the very old.
Love an Elder Day galvanizes individuals through schools, workplaces, houses of worship, and local groups, to take a positive action in support of community elders. The Love An Elder campaign has a track record of success in helping neighbors, caregivers, volunteer organizations, and elders strengthen physical and emotional ties to one another. Americans from coast to coast have posted their plans – from buying a dinner, calling an aunt, visiting a senior center, and more – on the Love an Elder Day website (LoveAnElder.org) and through the companion Facebook page and Twitter campaign (#loveanelder). A growing number of national and local New York organizations are making Love An Elder Day a centerpiece of their volunteer programming.
Here in New York City, LiLY, together with organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association of NY, New York Cares, DOROT, and UJA-Federation of New York, is getting the word out on social media and with an ad campaign. Bus shelters from Harlem to 34th Street are advertising Love An Elder Day, and 500 buses carry ads up and down the Broadway and Fifth Avenue lines. Retailers such as Zabars, Fairway and the West Side Market are distributing post-card sized handouts in customer carry-out bags. Sidewalk artist Hani Shihada created beautiful Love An Elder Day portraits after photographs of photographer Erica Lansner. One is located in front of Starbucks at 114th Street and Broadway and the other is drawn at 57th Street and Broadway. And FOX network is expected to once again air LiLY’s inspiring 30 second PSA video, visible on the LoveAnElder.org website.
Celebrations include a Gala Luncheon on October 1st at 107 West on Broadway, where Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will speak, and a Senior Health Fair and Concert at the Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Drive, where LiLY’s founder and former CNN Hero Irene Zola will briefly speak. The town of Margaretville, NY will also come out this year to celebrate seniors at a Love An Elder Dance and Supper on October 11th. We hope our September visibility will spawn “simple acts of kindness” across the land.
Love an Elder Day is the brainchild of Lifeforce in Later Years (“LiLY”), a nationally recognized nonprofit based in Manhattan where the goals of Love an Elder Day are practiced every day: community members working locally to improve the daily quality of life and sense of belonging for our most vulnerable neighbors. LiLY currently has 90+ volunteers matched with 90+ seniors living at home in the Morningside Heights neighborhood, the eldest of whom is about to turn 104.
More information on Love an Elder Day, www.loveanelder.org.