MAY IS OLDER AMERICANS MONTH
You'll want to high-five the grandparents this May - it's Older Americans month! Spending time with our elders is one of the most accessible and rewarding service activities - and one that's great for families with children of any age. So heed this year's theme of Connecting the Community by celebrating the older adults in your family and neighborhood. It's so easy to make a positive difference in their lives.
- Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
SHINE THE LIGHT ON SENIORS
Make a Difference.....
Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly is a terrific nonprofit that seeks to lessen isolation and loneliness among older people by encouraging friendship, community and independence. If you live in one of the eight cities where they work, check out their family-friendly volunteer opportunities. Wherever you live, it's worth exploring their site for project ideas. Some possibilities:
Gather a group of kids or families and put on a talent show or music concert at a senior center. Or host a craft or game night.
Bake cookies and take them to a care facility, homebound friend or neighbor.
Adopt a grandparent by forming a special relationship with an elderly person who has few visitors.
Deliver meals for Meal on Wheels.
Assist a homebound senior in your neighborhood.
Contact the volunteer coordinator at your local nursing home to find out specific needs or to suggest ways your family might help.
RECOGNIZE AND HONOR OLDER CITIZENS
Talk About It.....
Kids sometimes feel some unease around older people. The best way to become comfortable is to spend time with them. You'll be surprised at how quickly that nervousness will fade. Before visiting an older person, try these tips.
Explain why volunteering with elders matters-both for your family and for the folks you visit.
Remind your children that your visit may be the only one the senior has that day-or even that week.
Talk about why older people might have few visitors. For example, they may have outlived their friends, or their loved ones may live far away. Ask your children how they would feel if they were far from family and friends.
Share your feelings about the upcoming visit. Be positive, but if you're a little nervous, admit that, too. Inquire about your children's feelings and encourage them to share any concerns.
Think about engaging the senior in storytelling. We can learn a lot from people who have lived for so long, and they often like being asked to share their life experiences.
Talk with your children about the ways your life is similar and different from the seniors you meet.
Learn About It.....
Effie's Image by N.L. Sharp (Prairieland Press, 2008). When 82- year-old Effie decides that she no longer has anything to offer the world, a neighborhood girl named Amanda gives her charming reasons to leave her house.
Sunshine Home by Eve Bunting (Sandpiper, 2005). This lovely book explores the difficult issues and real-life feelings that surround putting someone you love in a nursing home.
Sylvia & Miz Lula Maye by Pansie Hart Flood (Carolrhoda Books, 2002). In this simple chapter book, a 10-year-old girl finds comfort in the friendship of her neighbor, Miz Lula Maye, who is about to turn 100.
Everyone is the age of their heart.
- Guatemalan ProverbGrow old with me! The best is yet to be.
- Robert Browning