For the past 29 years, Americans have celebrated Senior Citizens Day on Aug. 21. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, Senior Citizens Day is a time for the public to celebrate older adults — their knowledge, their leadership and their accomplishments.
“For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute,” Reagan wrote in his proclamation. “We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”
You probably can’t walk into the nearest Hallmark and find that perfect Senior Citizens Day card, so here are four things you can do with your aging loved ones to celebrate.
Ask a Question
Seniors have lived through a lot, so they have a lot of stories to tell. If you need help getting a conversation started, StoryCorps a list of great questions to ask, from “What was your childhood like?” to “How would you like to be remembered?” If you want to give a gift that keeps on giving, consider subscribing to StoryWorth. Each week, StoryWorth emails story prompts to your loved ones, they write a story that is shared with you, and at the end of the year, the stories are bound into a beautiful keepsake book.
Experience a Total Solar Eclipse
The much-anticipated Aug. 21, 2017, total eclipse of the sun will be one for the history books. The last time a solar eclipse was visible from the contiguous United States was nearly four decades ago, and the next time Americans will be able to experience a total solar eclipse will be in April 2024. Even if you’re not in the path of totality, avoid looking directly at the sun. Protect your eyes by wearing eclipse glasses or using handheld solar viewers.
Research shows that there are many benefits of reading for older adults, from providing mental stimulation and improving memory to reducing stress and enhancing sleep. Although reading can get harder as you age, large-print books, reading lights, magnifiers and audio books can make reading easier. If your aging loved one struggles with age-related roadblocks to reading, why not read together? Not only do you get to share in the fun, but you can also experience new things and different ways of thinking.
Seniors are more digitally connected than ever. Today, more than two-thirds of seniors use the internet — a 55-percentage-point increase in just under two decades — and some groups of seniors report owning and using various technologies at rates similar to adults under the age of 65, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. If you and your loved ones are separated by distance, send them a video intercom service that connects you no matter where you are.