A society that recognizes the value of their elderly citizens and respects the wisdom they can offer will benefit from the interaction. Age can bring a wealth of knowledge from one's experiences, and sometimes it brings stubborness along with it, too. Dealing with the elderly requires some patience, understanding and tolerance. Here are some helpful suggestions for giving the respect the elderly so deserve.
Be polite. The elderly grew up in a time where morals, values and respect were taught and expected. Basic manners should be practiced in all situations. Hold the door, be polite and give up your seat if you see a senior citizen standing. Practice common courtesy; they will be sure to notice.
Be a good listener. Sometimes they may say silly things, forget something or lose their train of thought, but they've seen and heard so much history. They will enjoy someone listening to their experiences.
Write a note or letter to your grandparents telling them how much you love and appreciate the people they are and what they have contributed to you and your family. This acknowledgement is sure to brighten their day. If your grandparents are no longer living, adopt a grandparent from your neighborhood or church.
Devote some time to an elderly person whether they are a family member, friend or someone you don't know so well. Put it on your calendar or date book and make it a habit. You may end up getting more out of the relationship than what you are giving.
Find a local nursing home and call to ask if there are specific visiting times or days. Then ask if there are any residents the staff could recommend that you visit. They will know who has family and frequent visitors and who does not.
Take your small children along for short visits when appropriate. Most seniors enjoy the laughter and giggles of children. Have your children draw pictures throughout the week to take as a gift. Teaching your children respect for the older generation at an early age will foster an appreciation for them.
Treat the elderly the way you want to be treated when you are up in age.
- Have compassion for the health issues and sometimes failing mental status of an elderly person. These must be difficult and frustrating at times to cope with as one's health and mind deteriorate.
- Preserve the dignity of an elderly person. Don't be critical or poke fun at forgetfulness or old-fashioned opinions.
- Do not expect to change an elderly person's opinion even if they are wrong in your eyes. They have likely felt that way for a long time and their opinion is worth acknowledgement.
- Remember that just because someone is old, it doesn't mean they are a sweet, adoring person. Age does not transform someone into a saint.