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Use Social Media for Advocacy, Now and Throughout the Year

May is Older Americans Month, and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) is encouraging older adults to make a statement. Let’s do it!

Let’s start with selfies — they’re not just for kids! Did you know that “selfies” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013? I think they are here to stay. Today’s technology makes it easy to send a photo message to friends, families, and elected officials. If you haven’t done it before, Older Americans Month is a good time to start.

We’re providing two choices for signs that you can print — “I age out loud by …” and “Age out loud because …” Click on the images here, print a copy, write what you think, and ask someone to take your photo holding the sign. You can post it on Facebook or Instagram, or tweet it on Twitter. If you don’t use social media, ask a friend or family member to do it for you.

Click on the image above to open and print your poster.

The nice thing about writing your message first, and then taking a photo, is that you don’t have to type much more than a phrase when you post. When you add a hashtag (a # symbol followed by an abbreviated message), your message joins others with the same idea. We’re using #OAM17 and #AgeOutLoud for Older Americans Month 2017.

Before you think I’ve “totally lost it,” as young people might say, I want to make a case for using social media to advocate for the needs of older adults. Increasingly, cities, nonprofits, and technology centers are providing social media classes for older adults — to stay in touch with friends and family, reducing social isolation. And increasingly more of our issues are addressed via social media in addition to traditional media and personal advocacy methods.

Click on the image above to open and print your poster.

Obviously, the ACL thought social media was useful when they added it to their Older Americans Month resources. Increasingly, we see social media strategies for public service campaigns, like falls prevention, elder abuse, the Affordable Care Act, Senior Center Month, and more. NCOA says to engage social media and traditional media in their April 2017 presentation, “Leveraging Upcoming Opportunities to Engage Your Elected Representatives.”

Fortunately, we’ve got a lot of help — just ask a youth or young adult! And here are some more good resources:

During Older Americans Month and throughout the year, shout it out — let everyone know that you’re aging and you’re proud of it! And start thinking of ways to use social media to get that word out to everyone who needs to know, including legislators and other elected officials who make decisions that affect your quality of life.

Contributor Irene Stewart is the Age-Friendly Seattle project manager as well as editor of AgeWise King County. Among her many duties, she presents workshops on how to use social media to promote aging network organizations and services. For more information, e-mail