"Engage at Every Age"
May is Older Americans Month, a time when we recognize the contributions of older Americans and think about how we as Americans work together to support and value people over age 65. Our theme this year for Older Americans Month is “Engage at Every Age.”
Here are several ways to celebrate this year’s theme, Engage at Every Age, through stories.
- Interview community members who exemplify what it means to Engage at Every Age. Try for a mix of individuals, such as older public servants, elder rights advocates, back-to-schoolers, or people trying new careers. Everyone has a story. Interviews can be shared as written pieces or videos.
- Arrange for older adults to share or read stories. Call a community or senior center about a joint effort—perhaps they’d like older adults to share their skills or experience in a workshop. Alternatively, see if a local school would like to host a “Senior Day” where older adults speak to students. Or, contact libraries about older adults reading to young children.
- Arrange for local school students to interview residents of a retirement community, assisted living community, or nursing home, and write a short biography. Plan a program for the residents and other members of the community at which the students read aloud their stories. Invite your local newspaper, local blogger, or radio station to attend.
- Ask your social media followers to share their wisdom, tips, and stories online—either using a unique hashtag or by posting to a page or forum you manage. If you take this approach, be sure to provide guidance, such as length or word limits, what you’d most like to hear, and a contact person for questions.
A community event is a terrific way to celebrate and educate. There are countless approaches to an activity like this, so here are a few ideas to get you started. We also have a few Event Tips to help with planning.
*TIP: Engage partners in your planning. Faith-based organizations and community groups are a great place to start as they are important gateways to the community. A local place of worship or recreation center may want to help to host an event and engage seniors in the community.
Celebratory Event: Invite community members to a special event celebrating Older Americans Month. This could be a sit-down meal, a networking gathering, or a special program like storytelling. Invite a leader or similar keynote speaker from your community to give remarks. If you plan activities that will result in proceeds (e.g., raffle), think about donating the funds to a local charity or program that supports older adults. No matter the format, be sure to promote the work of individuals, agencies, and organizations that support older adults in your area. This is not only nice for those recognized but it lets others know about available resources.
Volunteer Event: Plan a day or half-day gathering for older adults who want to give back. There are numerous options for activities, from picking up litter or gardening in public areas to collecting clothing and food donations for those in need. Need ideas? Check out these Create the Good Project Ideas. If resources are available, you could even create matching volunteer t-shirts that say “Engage at Every Age!” This creates a sense of unity and raises awareness among those who see your group volunteering.
Educational Event: Coordinate a resource fair, class, workshop, or lecture on one of the many topics covered by this year’s theme. You could center the gathering on maintaining health and independence with a class on balance and strength or consider teaching a group or community members about finding local resources, engaging through technology, or starting a new career or hobby.
Regardless of what activities you plan, it’s a good idea to thank your participants afterward. Social media “shout-outs” and photos are always nice, but personal notes are even better. Think about sending emails or letters to those who shared their stories, attended your event, or participated otherwise. Thank them for their contribution, for inspiring others, and most importantly, for aging out loud!
Check out these other great resources:
The Older Americans Month Offical Website
President Donald J. Trump Proclaims May 2018 as Older Americans Month
Older Americans Month Statement By Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging