“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

The source of this famous quote is unknown, but the words still ring true. August 21 is National Senior Citizen Day, a time to celebrate all those who have enjoyed the privilege of growing older. Rest assured; this is no made-up holiday. On August 19, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation making National Senior Citizen Day official.

Before you break out your party hat, you might wonder at what age, exactly, one becomes a senior citizen. The answer depends on who you ask. One school of thought says that seniorhood begins at age 65, when Americans are eligible for Medicare, the health insurance program for senior citizens. Others use the barometer of retirement; many choose to retire from their full-time work between the ages of 62 – 67. Those looking to claim senior status even sooner might note that many of the benefits that come with being a senior begin as young as 55. That is typically the age at which one may move into senior housing and enjoy courtesy discounts offered by many retailers. Basically, it comes down to each individual’s own self-perception. A 60-year-old may consider herself to be a senior citizen while an 80-year-old may bristle at the label.

Whether you fully embrace senior citizen status for yourself, or have a loved one who is a senior, here are a few suggestions for celebrating National Senior Citizen Day

If you know a senior:

  • Plan a socially distanced visit with the senior or call them on the telephone, letting them know you are thinking of them and value their role in your life.
  • Contact a nursing home and ask if you can send cards or notes to residents who are isolated or unable to receive visitors.
  • Send a senior you know a care package of favorite treats.
  • Arrange to do yard work or help with household chores for a senior in your neighborhood or circle of friends.
  • Cook a special dish that reminds the person of their childhood or culture.

If you are a senior:

  • Call an old friend and reminisce about “the good old days.”
  • Write down some of your cherished memories from your youth, and share these with younger family members or friends.
  • Go through photo albums and label the pictures with dates, places, and names of individuals.
  • Take advantage of restaurant or retail establishments offering senior citizen discounts. Treat yourself to something special or a meal out. Order take-out if that is more comfortable for you.

If you are a senior, you’re in good company. There are currently more than 50 million Americans over the age of 65, and the number of seniors is expected to outpace the number of children in the U.S. by 2035. So on August 21, take a moment to appreciate your life journey. With 50 million Americans celebrating, it is bound to be one heck of a party!