Honoring the Older Americans in Our Lives


We all know how important familia is to us. As May is Older Americans Month, we’re reminded that not only is now a great time to honor our older family members, but we should honor them year round. In that spirit, first today, I’m honoring an important woman in my life by sharing a bit of the story and values behind a traditional family recipe, Pozole Verde. This recipe was passed down from that special woman, my abuela, to my mom and then to me.

In collaboration with SCAN Health Plan, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans, serving more than 200,000 members in California. #GatherAndShareWithSCAN

Second, I want to contribute a few ideas for ways we can honor and connect with our older family members in the midst of our daily lives.

Finally, I want to share with you some information about a special digital photo series called, stages, and encourage you to check it out. It features centenarians right here in California, and celebrates the beauty and dignity of aging, while maybe, by chance, even smashing a stereotype or two.

Older Americans Month

Before I get started on all that, though, here is the quick lowdown on Older Americans Month. The Administration for Community Living, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, leads our national observance of Older Americans Month each year.

This year’s theme is Connect, Create, Contribute, highlighting how “communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger!” That’s one of the reasons our Latino communities are so solid, isn’t it? Check out the Administration for Community Living website for more information.

Honoring My Abuelita

My grandma helped make me who I am today, and she inspired in me a passion to create, connect, contribute — and cook!

Preparing and sharing food has always bonded our family together so I want to honor my grandma by highlighting a favorite recipe I learned from her and the values she shared with it. Cooking with her was never just about cooking, and the wisdom she passed down to me in the kitchen extended far beyond the menu.

Pozole Verde with Chicken (Green Pozole)

We serve pozole, a very traditional Mexican dish, for many special occasions. It’s a common occurrence since we have so many birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and other rites of passage in our very large family.

Pozole verde de pollo - mamalatinatips.com

For years, red pozole was the favorite at home, until one day my grandma decided to make this “lighter” green version of pozole. It knocked everyone’s socks off! Fast forward more years than I can count and my family made this pozole verde with chicken for my son’s birthday. It was such a huge success that my grandma had to go back to the store, buy more hominy, and make another quick batch in the pressure cooker!

I’ve made Pozole Verde for years now and it’s always a hit. Whenever I make it, I remember how my grandma taught me to honor tradition, but also to not be afraid to try something new.

Do you have a recipe that has passed down through the generations in your family? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments.

Ideas for How We Can Honor the Older Americans in Our Lives

Connecting with the older members of our families can enrich our lives, and theirs, in a myriad of ways. Here are just a few thoughts on how to start.

1. Take them dancing, or just dance around the house. Recently, we had the chance to go to a concert featuring the Sugar Daddy Swing Kings, and I noticed how happy the dancers were as they carved up the floor.

There were dancers of all ages, but I was struck by the sight of one particular woman brought to the concert by her daughter. Her face lit up when the music started. After a while, we met her on the dance floor and she even danced with my husband a little. At 100 years old, she still seeks out activities that promote her health and personal enrichment.

2. Visit an older family member and ask if you can record her story in her own words. My husband did this with his grandma, the one I adopted and recently wrote about, and she shared many, many interesting things with the family, especially stories about her own brothers and sisters, stories the family had never heard before.

3. Share your own gifts. Do you play an instrument? Play for them, or visit a retirement home or community and make some music. Many older Americans have talents to share with you, too.

Silvia playing with a replica of Coco's guitar

4. Make a date to connect through video. My mother and I live far apart, so we talk through video calls so she can see my kids and we can all catch up.

5. Use social media to connect. Connect with your family or promote and share events in your community.

Centenarians Tell Their Own Stories

I mentioned earlier the digital photo series called stages, a project that spotlights some of the 80,000 fascinating people who are 100+ years old living in America today. These features really bring out the beauty and dignity of aging, and are just a joy to read and watch.

Check out more ideas to honor your loved ones by visiting the Older American’s Month website.

Join the conversation at #SCANstages, #SCAN100over100 and #GatherAndShareWithSCAN hashtags on social media.


SCAN health plan logo

Thanks to the great folks at SCAN Health Plan for making this post possible. Since its founding in 1977, SCAN has been a mission-driven organization dedicated to keeping seniors healthy and independent. That’s a great thing.

Silvia Martinez
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