How Can We Recognize And Unlock The Assets Of Older Adults, in Order to Build Stronger Communities?
John Migliaccio joined me to co-host our ABCD Global Gatherings this spring focusing on older adults in our communities.
Some of the key ideas that were explored included:
* Every older adult is a unique person, with unique gifts and challenges.
* Relationships are the most valued things in an older person's life. Too often friends begin to pass away and younger family members may drift away and an older person may become isolated. At the same time, many older adults work hard to keep their relationships strong. There is power in relationships.
* Older adults can be taken for granted or their contributions discounted. In fact, in many communities, older retired people make things happen.
* If you want to get the word out about something, tell an older adult. They often know many people in the community and can provide a way of getting out information to a wide network of people.
* Listening is one of the most important things we can do to discover the gifts of older adults. They may not know what gifts they have or they may not think their gifts are anything special.
* Older adults often posses an abundance of stories, about themselves, their families and neighbors, their communities. Stories are one of the most overlooked assets of a community. Find ways for people to share their stories, especially with the youth of the community.
* Older adults in a community have a history there. They can share their vision for their community, based on the long view.
* Check out pickleball! This sport is being embraced by older adults looking not only to keep fit, but to have a connection to other people in their community.
* Intergenerational opportunities are valuable for all involved. Find ways to connect young people and older adults in ways that allow them to share and appreciate each other's gifts.
* Pay attention to the "ringleaders" and the "busybodies". They are often looking for ways to be connected, to contribute.
Some resources mentioned during the Global Gathering:
- Most Older Adults Want to Contribute to Society, and Many Do, New Study Shows, Article, April 2018, by Judy Goddess
- Memory Cafe, a welcoming place for people with Alzheimer's Disease or other brain disorders
"Contrary to widespread beliefs that older populations consume resources that would otherwise go to youth, there is growing reason to think that older people may be just the resource children need." —Laura Carstensen
“Aging is not 'lost youth' but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ― Betty Friedan
Feel free to add your thoughts, resources, and questions related to this topic below.
Lead Community Host, ABCD in Action