Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. The theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark.”
This theme was selected to encourage and celebrate countless contributions that older adults make to our communities. Their time, experience, and talents benefit family, peers, and neighbors every day. Communities, organizations, and individuals of all ages are also making their marks. This year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities.
OAM 2020 Activity Ideas
- Browse more than 2,500 free courses available on edX. With subjects ranging from computer science to arts and humanities to foreign languages, there’s something for
- Explore zoos and aquariums across the country, including Smithsonian’s National Zoo, through virtual behind the scenes tours and Many have live webcams so you can watch the animals any time.
- Enjoy artwork from around the Thousands of museums and galleries have partnered with Google Arts & Culture to display their collections through virtual tours.
- Tour one of the many national parks offering digital tours and experiences that you can access
- Learn from the pros. MasterClass Live is currently offering one free streaming class per week.
- Check your library’s free e-books and audiobooks you can borrow without leaving Consider joining a virtual book club to connect with others enjoying the same book.
- Host dinner or a game night with friends over video Good Housekeeping has 10 game ideas to get you started.
- Catch free theater or opera performances The New York Metropolitan Opera is streaming a different encore performance from their Live in HD series every day, and the UK’s National Theatre streams a different play on YouTube every Thursday.
- Eldercare Locator, a public service of ACL, is a nationwide service that connects older adults and their caregivers with trustworthy local support Whether you are looking for help with services like meals and home care, or you want to learn more about caregiver education and respite, the Eldercare Locator can point you in the right direction.
- Watch a TV show or movie while talking to a friend on the phone. Many streaming services are offering free trials or certain shows and movies at no charge.
- Write a letter to a friend and reminisce about one of your favorite memories of them. Ask them to write back and share their own favorite memory.
- Keep up to date with current events and stay connected to neighbors by reading local newspapers and community bulletins.
Share Your Stories
Stories build community and connect us even when we can’t be physically together. Recalling adventures with childhood friends, that family weekend at the beach, a teacher who helped guide your life, or how you learned you would become a grandparent—all of those stories connect you with your past and the people who have mattered along the way. They help people you love get to know you better and feel closer to you. Looking back at how we got through other tough times can help us manage this challenging time. Sharing what we love about our friends and family members helps them feel stronger and more connected.
Stories can be told over the phone, on the computer, over the backyard fence. They can be told in letters, in pictures, in headlines and photographs collected from newspapers. We don’t have to be together to share our stories and build each other up.
We can make a mark on people’s lives with the stories we share.
Inspire Your Community
Encourage individuals to share stories with the people they live with, in writing, in pictures, or by phone or video call. Make the following ideas your own and promote them through social media, check-in phone calls, a flyer handed out with home-delivered meals, or another way you’re connected to your community. If you really like one of the questions or ways to share, focus your efforts there. This kind of inspiration can be as broad or narrow as you’d like—customize for your community.
Jumpstart the memories
Think about the stories that make up your life. Which ones would you like 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?
For more ideas, see the Great Questions list from StoryCorps.
Many ways to share
Whether you’re a family or a community-based organization, here are some ideas for sharing stories. These can be done once or many times. If you want to organize a story-sharing series, try to make it as easy as possible for people to participate. Remember that everyone has different interests, access to technology, and comfort levels. The best sharing activities are those where people feel encouraged and at ease.
- Use video chat technology to hold a storytelling party. Select a theme or question from the list, and each person gets five minutes to tell a story that relates to that theme.
- Interview a relative—record the call or take notes and write up the story they tell you.
- Draw a picture that answers one of the above questions or captures a favorite day or memory.
- Keep a journal of stories to share with friends or family when you can get together again.
- Write a letter to a friend or relative and tell them what you love about them.
- Use your phone or computer to record a story.
- Post a story on Facebook. If you can, include a photo. Respond to the comments.
- Pick a song that means a lot to you and sing it to someone. Tell the person why you chose it.
- Call a relative and tell them you have a story to tell. Set up a time that works for both of you so you can be relaxed and focused.
- Talk to your grandchildren about your favorite activities as a child. Did you prefer to ride a bicycle, play team sports, or read a book while sitting in a tree?
- Read a favorite book, poem, or passage to loved one by video chat or phone. If by phone, describe the pictures as well as reading the words. Tell them why you chose that story.