Many people misunderstand the elderly population. It can be frustrating when an old person holds up the line in a store or bank when you are in a hurry to move on with your day. It is important to keep in mind that every elderly person is an individual, and each has a long history.
The Old Person And His Life History
The older a person is, the longer his life history. You may be amazed at the stories they can tell about themselves and their lives. You may want to salute or thank the old man who served his country in the military in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. He can be proud of his accomplishments when someone acknowledges them.
The old lady may have devoted her life to raising a family. By the time she is elderly, some of her children may have passed away. While these losses may be difficult to understand, it is enough to bring tears to your eyes. In contrast, she may have been one of the rare women in her generation who had a wonderful career. She is proud of what she has done with her life, even if it was decades in the past.
You may find other surprises in the elderly population, too. Perhaps the person who appears idle or tired enjoyed some degree of fame in the past. If he or she was a singer, a musician, an actor, or an artist, you can bring back wonderful memories by asking for an autograph.
The point to keep in mind is each person has a story, and there is no better way to acknowledge an old person’s life than by asking them to talk about it, be truly interested, and be a good listener.
Why Do Younger People Misunderstand The Elderly?
Ask yourself what you see when you look at an elderly person. You may see someone whose hearing and eyesight are not as good as they were in the past, a person who moves slowly, or someone who is experiencing frailty or health issues. Next, ask yourself how you usually react to elderly persons. Perhaps you become frustrated, impatient, or even angry.
Natural aging does not change the fact that the person needs consideration, compassion, and caring. The older person needs connections to other people, and communication. The elderly man or woman needs respect, too.
The old person you are thinking of may be someone you only saw once today, someone you encounter occasionally when you are out doing errands, or even a member of your own family. Strangers, casual acquaintances, and loved ones all present opportunities to change an elderly person’s life for the better. You can show basic respect, include them in conversations, or make a new friend.
Isolation and health issues can both cause problems for elderly people. The individual you are thinking of may be depressed because he is lonely, worried about his life, or difficult to deal with because he is no longer as independent as he was when he was younger. Instead of judging him, take time to get to know him.
A Long Life Is A Worthwhile Life
The elderly person may have had great accomplishments in the past, but you will never know if you do not ask. The person may have led a plain, simple life, but she still has many decades of memories.
Families, jobs, military service, and even hobbies are all stored in this person’s memory, waiting for someone to be interested enough to ask. If you can be that someone, you can make a difference in his life. Whether you see smiles or tears, sharing his life experiences does wonders for a senior citizen.
Whenever you are tempted to become impatient or ignore a senior, try to look at him or her as a unique individual. Whether they are ninety or sixty, they may not bear much resemblance to a person your age. Keep in mind they were your age at one point in time, even if it was long ago.
While we should always respect elderly persons, there is also much about them to admire. Many decades of living equals many decades of experiences. They have had joys, sorrows, hardships, and accomplishments, and long lives that have been worthwhile.
During their golden years, seniors need to know they count. They want to know their cherished memories matter, and that their lives have made a difference. They can know all of these things and feel good about themselves when we take time to listen and communicate.
Look past the person’s frailty and poor eyesight, and realize there is a loving spirit and many memories inside. Encourage the person to talk about his life. You may be surprised at what you learn. Whether he was a hero, or a hero only to his own family, his life has made a difference.