If you’re celebrating another birthday soon, you might hear this cliché: You’re only as old as you feel. Age is just a number, and despite what the calendar might indicate, you can still stay “young at heart.” This month’s newsletter will feature some activities to help your group maintain a youthful, positive attitude of the heart. Try a few suggestions from the list below.
- YOUNG AT HEART MUSIC: Listen to Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Young at Heart.” Ask: What does the song say about being ‘young at heart’? Do you feel that way? Why or why not?
- HEART SONGS: Listen to some ‘heart’ songs: “Dear Hearts and Gentle People,” “My Foolish Heart,” “Dear Lonely Hearts,” “Can You Find It in Your Heart,” “Heart and Soul,” “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “With a Song in My Heart,” “(Ya Gotta Have) Heart,” “The Door Is Still Open to My Heart.”
- National Heart Month. Munch on chocolate as you talk about ways to keep your heart healthy as you age. (Examples: nutritious food, exercise, laughter, family and friends, sound sleep, positive outlook)
- LAUGHTER: Ask participants if silliness /playfulness is just for kids. Encourage them to show a youthful spirit by “acting like a kid” for the afternoon: Suggest silly answers to silly questions such as the following: What do you feed a white elephant? How long is a jiffy? Where can you spend pennies from heaven? How do you get ants out of your pants? How does a red herring taste? Other: make silly faces, wear a silly outfit, suggest silly names, play silly games, make silly sounds, eat a silly food, tell a silly story, give a silly gift.
- GETTING OLDER: Encourage participants to share the place and date of their birth. Ask: What’s your favorite way to celebrate your birthday? How do you feel about aging? What is the hardest part about growing older? The best part? What keeps you young? Host a Gay Nineties Party, for participants who are over 90.
- INTERGENERATIONS: Learn something new from a child or teen. Invite some youth to demonstrate how to use an electronic device, like an iPad or smart phone. Or, ask some foreign language students to teach the group some new words. Try a new hobby together, like scrapbooking.
- SERVING OTHERS: Share thoughts on how doing something for others keeps us young at heart. Engage your group in a simple service project: Make inexpensive bookmarks for staff and residents, craft a woodworking project for a local preschool, knit mittens or scarves for a homeless shelter, or make cards for children in a hospital.
- VALENTINE’S DAY: Sing or play some funny love songs that describe unusual courtships. Ask the participants to share funny love stories of their own. Suggestions: “A Fine Romance,” “I Cain’t Say No,” (from Oklahoma), “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun” (from Annie Get Your Gun), “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love” (From Finian’s Rainbow), of “Button Up Your Overcoat.”
- GEORGE BURNS: Enjoy an afternoon of laughter with comedy legend George Burns who worked well into his nineties and died at the age of 100 in 1996. Listen to one of his old-time radio shows, watch an episode of his TV show with Gracie Allen, or enjoy one of his films, like The Sunshine Boys. Read some excerpts from one of his books. (Suggestion: 100 Years, 100 Stories)
- EXERCISE: Talk about the benefits of exercise for older adults. Engage your group in some gentle yoga exercises.
- QUOTATIONS: Read some quotes on aging and ask participants if they agree with the comments. (Example: “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” ~ Lucille Ball)
- FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Discuss the “fountain of youth” legend. Ask participants if someone can look young on the outside but feel old inside. Discuss some ways to look and feel younger (examples: cosmetics, plastic surgery, good nutrition, water, restful sleep, stylish clothes).
- PETS: Reminisce about family pets. Talk about the ways they bring joy to our lives and help keep us young. Name songs about pets and animals (examples: “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” “Bird Dog,” “Bluebird of Happiness,” “Baby Elephant Walk”). Arrange for some pet therapy visits with dogs, cats, and birds.
- IDIOMS: Discuss the following “heart” idioms: a bleeding heart, eat your heart out, faint of heart, follow your heart, have a change of heart, heart and soul, your heart isn’t in it, a man after my own heart, out of the goodness of heart, strike at the heart of, wear your heart on your sleeve.
HEART TRIVIA QUIZ
- Finish this saying: Cross my heart and hope to…. Die
- How many chambers are in the human heart? Four – right/left ventricle and right/left atrium
- What is a heart-to-heart talk? A very frank or honest discussion
- Which 1950s heartthrob sang “Blue Suede Shoes”? Elvis Presley
- There are four suits in a standard deck of playing cards. One is hearts. Name the other three. Clubs, spades, diamonds
- Which TV variety show host signed off with “Bless your pea-pickin’ heart”? Tennessee Ernie Ford
- A red Cupid heart is associated with which special day in February? Valentine’s Day
- Where does this saying comes from: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”? Bible (Matthew 6:21)
- What is the name of a doctor who diagnoses and treats heart disease? Cardiologist
- Describe a faint-hearted person. Someone who lacks courage or is timid
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“A heart that loves is always young.” ~ Greek proverb
“Young at Heart” written by Sue Hansen. © 2014 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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