Seniors have a lifetime of experience to share. They comprise a generation that has survived The Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam and The Great Recession. These seasoned Americans, not only have a thing or two to teach us about enduring change and handling life’s adversity, but also have a huge impact on our society, both past and present, and we need to remember and honor our elders.
So even if a senior’s hearing or memory isn’t what it was in the past, it’s important to remember that our elders have great wisdom to impart.Its one thing to read about Pearl Harbor, but it’s more engrossing to hear about it from someone with first-hand knowledge.
1. Ask for advice.
Elders are some of the wisest people in society. It’s a shame to think that an elder, with a lifetime of experience, would be overlooked for advice. Seniors have a lot to contribute to society through their life experiences, so seeking counsel from an elder is time well spent. You will both appreciate the sentiment.
2. Call them.
Phone calls are a personal way of both saying and showing that you care.If you live too far from your elderly loved one to see them on a regular basis, pick up the phone and call them. In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget just how much it will mean to a senior if we take time out of our day to say “hello.”
3. Discuss family heritage, history and traditions.
There’s an undeniable strength in family stories. In fact, putting together an oral family history can not only bring family members together and strengthen the ties between generations, but they can also educate about family genetics, personalities and more. In fact, recent studies have shown that children who have more knowledge of their family history also tend to show greater emotional resilience along with facing challenges and stress more effectively because they have a stronger sense of where they come from and who they are.
Typically, adult children want to know the following information about their family members:
Career highlights (e.g., significant work achievements, favorite job)
Family history (e.g., genealogy, origins of the family)
Life advice (e.g., view on aging, words of wisdom to share with children and grandchildren)
Medical history (e.g. health issues common with family members, life-threatening disease diagnosis)
Personal history (e.g., childhood memories, dating history)
Very much like a puzzle, heritage is made up of many pieces that form a masterpiece to comprise an individual and their journey. Taking the time to visit an aging loved ones not only allows us to reconnect, but also gather pieces of the heritage puzzle, which can provide important info to pass on for posterity. After all, information about families is lost in three generations if not written down.
4. Eat together.
Eating together is one of the greatest social customs for mankind. While nourishing your bodies, you also get to catch up and have fun. Whether you venture to a favorite restaurant, pack a picnic or visit your senior loved one’s home, try to eat together on a regular basis.
5. Spend time with them (and listen intently).
Whether our seniors are retired and no longer have their work social schedule, or they’ve lost their spouse and some friends, many seniors seek personal conversations.It’s important to take time to visit elderly loved ones to not only spend precious time with them and learn from them; but also give them purpose, as relationships are key to healthy aging.
6. Tell them how much you appreciate and respect them.
Even if you demonstrate that you respect your elders through your actions, it’s important to actually tell them how much you appreciate and respect them. Compliments send a very positive message, and give people purpose, especially older adults. If there is a senior who has positively impacted you, please make a point to spend time with them; it will bring a smile to their face.