Celebrate Older Americans Month this May

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

(NAPS) - May is Older Americans Month and the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) is urging all Americans to find ways to honor seniors. This year's theme, "Celebrate Long-Term Living" was selected by the AoA to remind everyone of the valuable contributions made by people as they age to their families, their communities, the country and the world.

Bankers Life and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer specializing in the insurance needs of seniors, participates in Older Americans Month each year by sponsoring Forget Me Not Days®. The nationwide fundraiser collects money to benefit local Alzheimer's Association chapters. This year, Forget Me Not Days volunteers collected donations in more than 80 U.S. cities and towns.

"America's seniors are our clients and more importantly, our friends," said Suzanne Schmitt, communications manager at Bankers, who organized this year's event. "We hold Forget Me Not Days every year just before Mother's Day, and every year our volunteers seem more excited than the previous year to participate. It's not just about raising money, it's also about raising awareness of the disease."

This is the third year for the "street-corner" fundraiser in which Bankers agents, employees, friends and family take to the streets of their hometowns for two days to collect donations at storefronts, intersections, parking lots and other locations. In 2004, Bankers raised over $80,000, all of which stayed in the communities where it was collected to help the Alzheimer's Association provide services and programs to those suffering with the disease and those who care for them. This year, the company expects to set a new record.

There are two great and far-reaching benefits to Forget Me Not Days," said Kent Barnheiser, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association Greater Illinois Chapter. "First, 100% of the funds stay in the local chapter area to benefit those who most need it. Second, with volunteers out on the street wearing distinctive aprons printed with Forget Me Not Days and Alzheimer's Association information, people are reminded of the disease and the need for resources to help the 4.5 million Americans who have Alzheimer's today, plus millions more of their family members and caregivers."

Schmitt notes, however, that donating to a charity that supports the needs of seniors is not the only way to contribute. "One thing we've learned working with seniors over the years at Bankers, is that volunteering time is just as important as giving money," she said.

  • Get involved with a local senior center, assisted living facility, nursing home or other organization. Anyone who is willing can be a great help with coordinating events or programs.
  • Spend time with a senior in your life - play a game together or go for a walk.
  • Ask them what they did for fun when they were young or to tell you stories about family members.
  • Send a card or letter to out-of-town grandparents or visit a nursing home and talk to the residents there.

Bankers urges all Americans to reach out to seniors, not just in May, but throughout the year. To contact your local Alzheimer's Association chapter visit www.alz.org. Visit the AoA at www.aoa.gov. To contact Bankers go to www.bankers.com or call 800-231-9150 to find your local Bankers office.