Guest post: Doing Good Together, Minneapolis, MN, and A is for Aging have similar goals and values. Here they share “8 Acts of Kindness & Stereotype-Busting Service to Share with Older Adults”
Let’s all make time to celebrate older adults, whether they are friends, family, or friends-to-be. Who’s with me? The thoughtful acts of kindness and service listed below are sure to keep that generous, Valentine’s feeling in your heart – and in the heart of a senior friend – for weeks to come.
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 from the kindness experts at Doing Good Together.
- Give an Award.
Use this free printable, along with our instructions and conversation starters, to give the gift of recognition to a senior you admire. Then take time to listen to their story.
- Listen Deeply with StoryCorps.
Watch this animated introduction to the StoryCorps mission, then use the StoryCorps App to record an extended interview with an senior friend or relative.
- Visit Older Adults.
Reach out to older neighbors as well as 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.
- Make and Bake.
Share holiday treats with a senior neighbor, and make time for a visit when you share your deliveries.
- Become a Senior Angel.
Through weekly correspondence, your family will let older adults know they are remembered and loved. Follow our project instructions to be matched with a senior citizen, then share your weekly greetings with a senior in need of a smile.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Whichever project you choose, be sure to talk to your child about it afterwards. By reflecting on how you felt during the project, how you made others feels, and what good you accomplished, your child will likely be more eager to start a new kindness project very soon.
For more reflection tools, service project ideas, and tips for raising compassionate kids, sign up for the Doing Good Together newsletter.
With a little persistence, you’ll create new friendships with older folks while starting a lifelong habit of giving back.
Sarah Aadland, MPP is striving to make family volunteering a meaningful habit for her three animal-loving, social-justice-seeking, mud-pie-making kiddos. As Director of Doing Good Together’s Big-Hearted Families™ Program, she creates resources for families that want to develop a kindness practice at home. For her own family and for participants in the Big-Hearted Families Membership Circle, Sarah has watched family volunteering create empowered kids, more connected families, and stronger communities. In addition to her children, Sarah tends a large garden, a small flock of chickens, and a habit of mindfulness amid the necessary rituals of parenting.