In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that proclaimed Aug. 21 to be the annual observation date of National Senior Citizens Day. The purpose of the day is to encourage public recognition of older Americans’ wisdom, leadership and contributions.So how can you celebrate National Senior Citizens Day? One of the best ways is to visit with your senior loved ones. According to the Administration on Aging, in 2014, more than one in four older Americans (and nearly half of women 75 or older) lived alone.
Isolation is a serious problem. It’s been closely linked to higher mortality among the elderly — seniors who suffer from feelings of isolation are 26 percent more likely to have a shorter life expectancy than seniors who do not feel lonely.
Visiting with your elderly loved ones is a simple way to show them that they are valued and honored. A visit also can help to alleviate the loneliness they may be feeling. If you have an older parent or grandparent living in Cincinnati, here are three ideas for spending time with him or her this National Senior Citizens Day.
1. Share a meal.
You could also try cooking together. Maybe your older loved one could share a family recipe with you and show you how to prepare it?
Passing down recipes is a great way to connect one generation of a family to the next. It’s also a way of preserving family history. Ask your loved one to share memories of learning to prepare the same dish, and of the person who taught him or her to do it.
2. Record family stories.
If the idea of National Senior Citizens Day is to honor older Americans’ wisdom and experiences, what better way is there to do that than to sit down and listen to your older loved one share his or her life stories?
Bring a digital voice recorder or use your smartphone’s voice memo app to record your parent or grandparent’s stories so you can listen to them whenever you want.
Recording your family’s stories is also an excellent way to preserve them for future generations. You can pass on the recordings, like heirlooms, so that your loved one can continue to share his or her wisdom and memories, in perpetuity, with your descendants.
3. Teach your senior loved one a new skill.
Who says that National Senior Citizens Day has to be entirely about transferring information from the older generation to the younger? Why not use the opportunity to show your senior loved one how to do something new?
Teach your parent or grandparent how to use a bit of new tech or an app that could add value to his or her life. If your older relative has difficulty getting out of the house, then an app like FaceTime, Skype, or Snapchat, for example, would make it easier to visit, albeit remotely, with family members and friends.
Has your loved one always wanted to learn how to sew, play an instrument or paint or sculpt? Does he or she have a deep interest in a particular area of study? Maybe you could take a distance learning class together, or attend a community workshop!
Spending time with your elderly relative is the best way to show your love for him or her.
Whatever you choose to do, your loved one will appreciate your time together. And know that you’ll be improving his or her mental, physical and spiritual wellness by helping to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
This National Senior Citizens Day, help your older parents and grandparents to understand how much they are appreciated and how much they are loved.