As a senior citizen, I attend many courses and workshops—online and not—to exercise my creativity and learn new things, as well as to express the best of my experience to new generations. Here are some suggestions I have for other seniors or for those planning creative experiences for us “golden oldies.”
A great idea is to have kids interviewing elders—their own grandparents or others in the community. My colleague Susan (Russell) Marcus and favorite teacher Bob Flynn wrote a book many years ago, When I Was Just Your Age. Working with a group of kids, they interviewed Texans of diverse ethnicities and accomplishments, who were a few generations older, about how life was different for them when they were growing up. These kinds of exchanges enrich all ages involved. You can do your own story, book, slide show or art exhibit by interviewing elders you know. (I am so grateful, I interviewed by beloved grandparents when I was a teenager and wrote a play about a dramatic moment in their lives that impacted me strongly!) If you are a senior yourself, try writing or creating art to express the contrast between now and then for yourself and your world.
Collage is a great art form, even for those who don’t see themselves as artists. My mother, as a senior, created two collages I love: (1) On my 40th birthday she made a little book with a collage on each page representing every decade of my life. (2) Just for fun she collaged all the “outtakes” of our family: photos where we were being silly or looking goofy. Those projects encouraged the rest of us to create collages as well for ourselves and others. (You don’t have to use the original photos–just scan and print them out anew. Then you can crop or literally cut them as desired before pasting them down.)
Here are a few topics for writing, collaging, drawing, sculpting or painting that might appeal to seniors:
- If they only knew my secret talents! Let people know you’re not just an old person.
- Old age is not for sissies! Reveal what is like to deal with forgetting things, daily pains and, in general, an elderly body and mind.
- Moments to remember. Write about when you were happiest, proudest, most at peace. If it will help you or others, tell about a joyous funeral, a dignified death or other life changes you have experienced.
- Share your favorite sayings, remedies, tales, love stories—even superstitions! Tell about favorite people, objects, pets, books, and so on.
- Other generations. As seniors, tell about your own parents and grandparents and those times gone by.
- Who was your best teacher? Who was the most outlandish person you ever knew? Who was the kindest?
- Let the new generations know what you value and what has sustained you in life. Perhaps give words of wisdom to your younger self or a treasured young person.
- Celebrate your life or the life of someone you love.
- What would you like to pass on? Find a creative way to do so.