Six Tips for Engaging Elders
1. Research has documented that outdoor experiences, close to home, are important for everyone; these experiences can be even more helpful as people age and have fewer resources or ability to travel farther away to experience nature, farms and ranches.
2. Assess what outdoor experiences in your community are available to elders at different stages of their lives, interests and cultures. Look for what might prevent them from experiencing the lands and waters they love.
3. Find out what people need. Talk to elders who are not participating in your programs or outdoor spaces; brainstorm with organizations serving the elderly; consider inter-generational access and programs. Don’t make assumptions about people’s capacity, interest or way they would like to interact with the outdoors.
4. Enhance specific trails and programs for different mobility levels. Elders, as well as others, may want to bring other people, or dogs, with them for company and safety. People with strollers, those with mobility challenges or medical conditions can also benefit from all-access trails. Plan for resting spots, surface materials and interpretive signage appropriate to visitors.
5. Consider ways to bring the “outside in” like the Audubon Program.
6. Evaluate the role of volunteers; consider possible partnerships and how they might expand your capacity and impact. If you do use volunteers or partners, recognize that these programs are relationship-based—you are using conservation as a tool to enrich lives and learn about those you are serving. Be sure to capture personal impact stories.
Interested in other tips, examples, and suggestions?
Go to the Land Trust Alliance’s website at www.lta.org/community-conservation