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Celebrating Older Americans Month in May

April showers bring May flowers, along with many celebrations in this month that is the gateway to summer. Among many other commemorative days and weeks — including National Police Week and Nurses Week — is one you’re sure to want to remember: National Older Americans Month.

Americans are living longer and more vibrant lives than ever, and it’s time to celebrate that longevity with love. Whether your older family member or friend lives in an assisted living community nearby or a farther distance away, consider some of these ideas to celebrate their lives this month.

Add vibrancy to their suite

Celebrate your favorite older loved one by helping them shake the winter blues and spring blahs from their assisted living apartment with a vibrant refresh. Here are just a few ways you can offer to help spruce up their space:

  • Make or buy special curtains to brighten their outlook
  • Find a great new area rug to bring together their living room or bedroom
  • Add brightly colored hanging pots of flowers or big pots of greenery to ensure springtime ambience is a part of their apartment year-round
  • Volunteer to help with some spring cleaning — or “spring” for a service if you don’t live nearby

Acknowledge the many facets of their lives

We sometimes forget how very much the older loved ones in our lives have accomplished professionally, in their families, through military service or as volunteers. Ensure those happy memories and accomplishments are not forgotten by taking time to highlight and acknowledge them this May during Older Americans Month. Some ways you can do that include:

  • Creating a scrapbook of pictures, mementos or clippings that showcase their career, family or involvements
  • Assembling a shadowbox of specially collected items that can hang on their wall as a constant reminder of treasured moments in their lives
  • Taking them on an outing somewhere meaningful from their life — a base where they were stationed, an old office or their former family homestead — and arranging for some familiar faces to greet them while there

Show them how very much they are treasured

Your older loved one may grow lonely at times, especially if you live far away or they have lost other family or friends recently. Create a love presentation for them to have during those times as a reminder of how very much they are treasured.

Design an electronic presentation they can watch on a computer or tablet — or burn one to a DVD for their player — that includes pictures, videos and recordings of friends and family telling stories and anecdotes and reminding them of their love. Alternatively, organize a letter-writing campaign among your older loved one's extended network of family and friends. Either arrange to have those missives arrive once a day during the month of May, or collect them into a scrapbook or archival box.

Your loved one can watch or read through these collections when they need a pick-me-up or every so often just for fun. In the future, this will become a great item to hand down to children or grandchildren.

And the best gift of all…

Never forget that the best present is your presence. Haven’t gathered the troops for a get-together or reunion in a while? Why not plan one for the month of May, gathering, if possible, people from far and wide? And as a surprise, include some folks who may not normally get to attend or visit. Seeing all of those smiling faces is sure to make Older Americans Month special for your favorite older loved one.