The Administration for Community Living (ACL), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seeks to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan, and their families and caregivers by coordinating resources and programs to meet the unique needs of older Americans and those with disabilities. (ACL.gov). Each May, the ACL celebrates Older Americans Month with a different theme. This year, the theme for Older Americans Month is “Make Your Mark.” (National PACE Association) Join AmeriCare as we explore more about this initiative and identify ways we can help the older loved ones in our lives celebrate their achievements.
Make Your Mark!
According to NPA, an organization dedicated to advancing the efforts of Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), this theme was selected for 2020 to help encourage and celebrate the countless contributions that older adults make in their communities. (NPA) “Their time, experience and talents benefit family, peers and neighbors every day,” states the ACL. “This year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities.” (ACL.gov)
Getting Help Celebrating Older Americans
Every year the ACL puts out a series of materials, activity ideas, and a social media strategy to help personal and professional caregivers make the most of Older American’s Month. This year, the organization wants to highlight how the time, experience, and talents of older Americans benefit their families, peers, and neighbors every day. This year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities. (Older Americans Month 2020) To help you make your mark on an older American’s life, check out some of their unique activity ideas below:
Help Jumpstart Memories for Seniors
Talk to the older Americans in your life. Help them remember a lifetime of memories they have experienced and are waiting to share. Here are some questions that might get you thinking:
- What would you like to tell your 22-year-old self?
- What do you think your 22-year-old-self would want to tell you?
- What are the best and worst pieces of advice you’ve received?
- What’s your hidden talent?
- What are you most proud of?
- Looking back, is there something you wish you had done that you did not?
- What do you most admire about your best friend?
- What do you wish the world knew about you?
- Was there a time when an older adult helped you feel strong in a tough time?
- What does it mean to be a caregiver? What did you learn from the experience?
Encourage any seniors you may know to share their stories with the people they live with, in writing, in pictures, or by phone or video call. There are many ways you can help older Americans share and preserve their contributions and stories for years to come!
- Try using video chat technology to reach out to loved ones from a distance
- Do a fun interview over the phone
- Record video of the stories your loved ones share
- Try keeping a journal of what you learn
- Write a letter to a friend or relative and tell them what you love about them
- Post a story on social media about your older loved one and try adding a photo or two
- Teach the senior in your life how to share their stories on platforms like Facebook
Spend Time with Older Adults
As we’ve discussed, limited mobility and other complications that can come with aging can feel quite isolating to seniors. To help prevent loneliness and isolation, take some time to visit with the older Americans in your life. While it’s important to maintain social distancing for the health and safety of all, try stopping by and greeting seniors from your car or through an open window. Remind them they are loved and that they matter. Try some of the activities above at a distance!
Let’s all spend the rest of May celebrating the many gifts older Americans have shared with us throughout the years! Talk to your in-home caregiver to create a plan today. Or, if you need guidance and are unsure where to start, contact your local AmeriCare to find out more ways you can help improve the quality of life and independence of the older Americans in your family.