Each May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads our nation’s celebration of Older Americans Month (OAM). ACL designed the 2017 OAM theme, Age Out Loud, to give aging a new voice—one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.
This theme shines a light on many important trends. More than ever before, older Americans are working longer, trying new things, and engaging in their communities. They’re taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. What it means to age has changed, and OAM 2017 is a perfect opportunity to recognize and celebrate what getting older looks like today.
Let’s amplify the many voices of older Americans and raise awareness of vital aging issues across the country. Join us as we speak up and out loud for OAM!
Here you will find ideas to help you bring older adults together with others in your community to learn, socialize, and celebrate in honor of Older Americans Month and the 2017 theme, Age Out Loud. Each of these suggestions can be tailored to suit your needs and the interests of your community.
Here are several ways to celebrate this year’s theme, Age Out Loud, through stories.
- Interview people in your community who exemplify what it means to Age Out Loud. 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 books 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 would 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 great 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.
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 a storytelling or talent show. 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 Serve.gov toolkits. If resources are available, you could even create matching volunteer t-shirts that say “Age Out Loud!” 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 self-expression with activities like painting, acting, and singing, or focus on maintaining health and independence with a class on balance and strength. Nutrition tips would be a great addition to any wellness event. You might want to aim for something deeper at your event. If so, consider teaching a group about self-advocacy, technology, or starting a new career.
Thank Your Participants
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!