For many years I worked at the local, regional and state level of government with Older Americans Act programs and services. I was always excited to see what the annual theme was for Older Americans Month, observed each May.
This year they picked Aging Unbound; offering an opportunity to explore a wide range of aging experiences and promoting the importance of enjoying independence and fulfillment by paving one’s own path as they age.
My work in older adult and caregiver ministry fits this year’s theme perfectly. The Administration for Community Living offers some ways that people can participate in Aging Unbound through embracing the opportunity to change, exploring the rewards of growing older, staying engaged in your community and forming relationships.
Here are a few examples of what can be done in older adult ministry with each one of these ways:
- Embrace change by suggesting new types of activities that the older adults in your church can participate in such as a back to school fair that utilizes older adults as volunteers interacting directly with the children by reading Bible stores or taking the children around to all the activities to give their parents a break.
- Grow knowledge by offering regular book studies, visiting museums and special exhibits, and trying new creative activities that involve all ages in your congregation.
- Help older adults to stay engaged in the happenings in their communities by finding out more about local second hand clothing shops or food pantries, by visiting them and discovering ways volunteers can be helpful.
- Relationships can be critical to a better mental health as we grow older. Offer opportunities for intergenerational story telling on a regular basis between youth and older adults. Recording these conversations can bring enjoyment to all ages when they listen to them in the years to come.
POAMN’s annual planning guides also have great ideas from ministries and communities like yours. Check out this year’s guide or past guides for inspiration on something new to bring to your group.
What ideas do you have to share?