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Supporting Older Americans Through Corporate Philanthropy

By 3p Contributor

Editor's note: This post is a follow-up to our summer Twitter chat on healthy aging in partnership with Caesars Entertainment. In case you missed it, you can catch a recap here.

By Jan Jones Blackhurst, Caesars Entertainment

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 14 percent of the population is 65 and older. Some fear aging as a time of slowing down and not being able to enjoy life as one once did. However, many embrace it as a time to enjoy hobbies, volunteer and spend time with loved ones. The long-held stereotypes of senior citizens are fading – today’s older adults are just as likely to be running marathons or launching a second career.

At Caesars, many of our guests are seniors, and I’ve seen firsthand that people can and do enjoy this life phase. We’re also very aware of the challenges that may come with aging, from health concerns to tighter budgets.

For example, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America, taking the lives of more seniors than breast and prostate cancer combined. Seniors may face poverty and all the struggles that accompany it, with 10 percent living under the poverty line and 1 in 6 facing hunger.

While there is no magic bullet to solve such complex problems, there are ways we as a company can make a difference when it comes to healthy aging. Our partners at Second Wind Dreams define aging healthily as “being involved in your community, staying mentally active and having a purpose.”

That’s why Caesars Entertainment is dedicated to helping older adults live independently, maintain optimal health and proper nutrition, avoid social isolation, and enjoy mental and physical vitality through every stage of the aging process. Since healthy aging is so multi-faceted, it’s been important to find multiple nonprofit partners that specialize in aging from different perspectives.

Avoiding social isolation

For example, Second Wind Dreams works to improve quality of life and fulfill the dreams of seniors by funding special experiences, such as helping Helen, a World War II pilot, reconnect with her love of flying. Since 2009, Caesars Foundation has funded more than 3,000 dreams like Helen’s, with contributions totaling nearly $1.4 million. We also partner with the organization to provide a little extra care to seniors in assisted living homes, such as hand-written Valentines from Caesars employees in our HERO volunteer program.

Maintaining proper nutrition and living independently

Another longtime nonprofit partner of ours is a household name: Meals on Wheels America. The nonprofit’s most recent campaign -- America, Let’s Do Lunch -- invites Americans to volunteer over their lunch break to bring a meal to a senior in their community.

The Caesars Foundation has been instrumental in supporting the organization’s mission by donating 59 vans to facilitate meal delivery. Our employees often volunteer for Meals on Wheels, too, and we support Meals on Wheels America’s groundbreaking research on hunger among older adults. To date, our contributions to Meals on Wheels America and other local hunger nonprofits totals $5 million.

Enjoying mental vitality and wellness

According to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, lifestyle choices like nutrition, sleep and socializing can impact brain health, especially among seniors. To support the Center’s excellent work in educating people on brain health and aging, Caesars Foundation has gifted $400,000, with another $200,000 to come later this year.

With this funding, the Center built HealthyBrains.org, where seniors can learn about how to improve brain health through lifestyle choices. We partnered with the Clinic to train employee ambassadors – dubbed Smart HEROs – to spread the word about Healthy Brains to their colleagues and guests, encouraging them to visit HealthyBrains.org. We hope to replicate this employee ambassador program at our properties across the country, helping the Lou Ruvo Center expand its reach and share its important message.

Our ongoing commitment

By 2040, older adults will be one-fifth of the population, so the issues that impact seniors will only grow in importance. We’re committed for the long haul – healthy aging is a key pillar of our corporate giving strategy. Caesars Entertainment and the Caesars Foundation will continue to support this population, building on the $25 million we’ve already donated to help seniors everywhere.

Jan Jones Blackhurst is executive vice president of government relations and corporate social responsibility for Caesars Entertainment.

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