8 Acts of Kindness and (Stereotype-Busting) Service to Share with Older Adults

Foster intergenerational friendships and destigmatize aging with these great projects

Let's all make time to celebrate older adults, whether they are friends, family, or friends-to-be. Who's with me? The holidays can be a lonely time of year for many older people, and the heart-warming acts of kindness and service listed below are sure to make someone smile.

Even better, these projects just might help your family strike up a new friendship, or deepen an existing relationship.

Opportunities for meaningful intergenerational friendships have diminished substantially in recent decades. Families are moving more frequently and farther from one another. Communities specialize their services for older adults versus young adults versus families with young kids, keeping us in our silos.

Whatever our age, we all gain a great deal from a diversity of friendships, including those across the generations. They broaden our perspectives, give us hope and encouragement, and brighten our days. In fact, when giving the gift of friendship, it's impossible to tell who the giver and the receiver truly is.

Here are eight friendly acts of kindness your family can share with older adults during this season of giving.

  1. Give an Award (new project!)
    Use this free printable, along with our instructions and conversation starters, to give the gift of recognition to an older adult you admire. Then take time to listen to their story.

  2. Listen Deeply with StoryCorps. 
    Watch this animated introduction to the StoryCorps mission, then use the StoryCorps App to record an extended interview with an older friend or relative.

  3. Visit Older Adults.
    Reach out to older folks in your own neighborhood or residents at a nearby nursing home and incorporate some of our conversation starters or The Legacy Project's creative ideas to make the most of your visit.

  4. Make and Bake.
    Share holiday treats with an older neighbor, and make time for a visit when you share your deliveries.

  5. Become a Senior Angel.
    Through weekly correspondence, your family will let an older friend know they are remembered and loved. Follow our project instructions to be matched with an older adult, then share your weekly greetings with your new friend.

  6. Start a Grandparent Journal.
    Our friend Cait over at My Little Poppies recently shared this creative, compassionate family project on our blog. Her instructions are thorough and inspiring!

  7. Support Meals on Wheels.
    Make time to deliver meals as a family, or check out five other great ways you can support Meals on Wheels.

  8. Read Together.
    Set the stage for your great intergenerational friendships with these two new, stereotype-busting book lists. Check out our favorite picture books or our chapter books that celebrate older adults and aging. These books show older adults as the dynamic, complex people they are.