President Joe Biden declared today that May is Older Americans Month. He offered a special message reminding us that older Americans play a key role in sharing the wisdom and experience that inform today’s decisions and actions, and fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
The theme for 2021 is “Communities of Strength” and in part because of the difficult year we have been through due to the pandemic, the Aging Network has put special emphasis on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities. The Aging Network is the partnership between federal, state, tribal and local agencies which supports the work of those who provide assistance to all older Americans including American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) elders.
The Aging Network suggests that for older adults connecting with others can play a vital role in our health and well-being, and in that of our communities. One of the aspects of this, according to AN, is to find joy in small things and give to others. In this way, we remain connected and strong.
The Brookhouse Home is fortunate in that we are a senior community that values connection and engagement and we see that it leads to healthy outcomes. We have seen first hand that working together creates community. Although the pandemic at times kept us physically apart, a community can accomplish a lot together
The Aging Network has five suggestions that tie into the Brookhouse Homes’ own best practices. They are worthwhile implementing into many communities.
1. Create a community quilt. The Aging Network suggests individuals can make squares on their own, which can then be sewn into a beautiful wall hanging or cozy blanket. The quilt can then be donated to a charitable organization or a community member. For tutorials, beginner patterns, and other ideas, search “how to quilt” on the Internet.
The Brookhouse Home had a knitting group and we do enjoy donating our hats and mittens to local charities.
2. Decorate a public garden or community walking path. Paint rocks with eye-catching designs and inspiring messages. Ask community members to paint their rocks individually, providing simple supplies, if possible. Then, collect them to display in your community.
The Brookhouse Home has a walking group and we tend to find interesting things along the way. We have painted rocks in the past!
3. Establish a physical or virtual bulletin board. Fill it with photos, jokes, quotes, and/or good news from community members. Display in a public place or on your organization’s website.
The Brookhouse Home enjoys posting some of our celebrations including a monthly birthday celebration and events like Cinco de Mayo, Drink & Ink, and more.
4. Plant a community garden of flowers or vegetables. Have participants plant in shifts to maintain social distancing or provide participants with seeds and a pot to plant them in at home. Collect all the potted plants to display together as one large container garden.
Although the Brookhouse Home enjoys an amazingly beautiful front lawn and garden, we do some communal gardening and tend to focus on our vegetable garden. In fact, many of the things we grow in the garden end up in Chef Denis menu for some healthy lunches and dinners.
5. Design a mosaic art project or mural. Each participant can take a turn adding their own touch. Don’t have a space that can be permanently altered? Use small canvases instead. Search “mini canvas collage” to spark your creativity.
We love the idea of a community project and over this past year the Brookhouse Home came up with some activities that our residents all enjoy. Those included dancing, music, book group, and gardening.
We applaud the Aging Network for their ideas and community support. Whatever is ahead for the spring and summer of 2021, we here at the Brookhouse Home plan to stick together!