Open the Door to the Commission on Aging

Grade Level: 
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Keywords: 
Community
Intergenerational
Volunteer
Open the door to a local nonprofit that connects people over 60 to people and services to live a healthy, independent life. This guide introduces you to the work of one group focused on people who are over 60 as a first step before you contact your own local Commission on Aging. We think you'll be inspired to find a way to support their work with your own creative service and learning to make a real impact.

The "Open Doors to Your Community" project is a virtual door that guides young people to the actual door of local resources so they can learn about their community, take action, and build connections and understanding of their roles in the community. 

What Is the Purpose of the Commission on Aging?

As people age and their families move away for employment, sometimes it can be more difficult to stay connected to others in the community or find services. The Commission on Aging is a resource that promotes intergenerational relationships and support for people who need meals brought to their homes or opportunities for fun and gathering. Our older population looks forward to their time together, sharing a meal or engaging in fun activities daily, weekly, or as often as possible.


Meet a representative from one county's Commission on Aging

In this brief video, we meet Aeriel Stroven, Recreation and Volunteer Manager. She shares with us information about the Newago County Commission on Aging. Their mission is to make available, caring services that enhance the quality of life and support the independence of adults who are 60 and older. They assist older adults in reducing social isolation and provide services that allow them to remain independent and stay in their homes and communities. They suggest many ways young people can engage in a similar program as volunteers. 


Contact Your Local Commission on Aging

Look up the contact information for nonprofits in your community that support older adults. Call to set up a phone or in-person interview. Tell them you'd like to learn more about their work and ways you can get involved or volunteer to help their mission. Ask for 30 minutes or an hour of their time. The Interview Script linked here and below can help you make the call.

Interview Questions

These questions can help you learn about your community and ways you can get involved.

  1. What is the main purpose of a program that supports adults who seek to maintain independence and community engagement? This may be its mission or vision. 
  2. What are some challenges that we face if our older citizens aren't supported? What are the different reasons people can't get the services they need?
  3. What are some things people can do to get involved?
  4. What can a young person do to participate in the work?
  5. Why should we care about the quality of life and community connection of people as they get older?

Take Action in Your Community

Reflect on the importance of forming relationships with people of different generations in the community. What can you do to get involved? Your voice and time matter. The resources below can help you plan a project. 

The best service-learning projects guide us to gain and use knowledge, are led by youth voice and passion, address a need, and develop connections with local resources over time.

Learning to Give Issue Area Toolkits include background on the issue, community connections, lessons and activities, project ideas, and planning guides. Check out the Veterans and People Who Serve toolkit. This lesson Oral History Project guides learners to interview people about their stories.

 

Learning to Give Simple Safe Service guides provide directions for generous actions that encourage youth voice and promote the common good. Young people can initiate Conversations with Grandparents to learn about their lives of service and family. 

 

Learning to Give Literature guides combine selected literature with thought-provoking discussions and activities that teach about giving and civic engagement. This Miss Rumphius literature guide provides discussion questions for this picture book about a woman who looks back at her life of adventure and service.


More about the Joy of Growing Older

Fun Facts:

  • People can get happier and less stressed as their job and family responsibilities decrease.
  • Older people can be good at reasoning in conflict situations.
  • People are living longer and healthier than they used to.
  • Often people in our older generations are great storytellers.
  • Have a pen and paper handy when listening to an older community member and write down some of their many cliches.

What You Can Do!

  • Volunteer to play games, talk, and read aloud with people so they can keep their minds fresh and engaged. 
  • Record a family member's stories to be shared for generations to come.
  • Listen to their favorite music from their generation and learn about how music played a part in their life.
  • Ask them questions about the things they did when they were your age.  Discuss the benefits of both your life experiences.