Senior citizens have a lifetime of experience. They comprise a generation that has survived The Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam and The Great Recession. They have a lot to teach us about enduring change and handling life’s adversity.
Even if their hearing or memory isn’t what it was in the past, senior citizens have great wisdom to impart. It’s one thing to read about Pearl Harbor, but it’s more engrossing to hear about it from someone who was there.
Older Americans have a huge impact on our society, both past and present. From the wisdom and experience of the “Greatest Generation” to the vitality and engagement of the retiring Baby Boomers, we need to remember and honor our senior citizens.
Here are several ways we can show our respect and honor our older citizens:
1. Spend Time and Listen
Senior citizens can get lonely, whether they’re retired and no longer have their work social schedule, or they’ve lost their spouse and friends. Regardless, they still need a social circle for happiness as many can get isolated over time; which can lead to a decline in their health. It’s important to take time to visit elderly loved ones to not only spend time with them; but also give them purpose, as relationships are key to healthy aging. When in the presence of a senior citizen, make sure to listen as the their words come from many decades of experience.
2. Show Courtesy and Respect
Being polite is a demonstration of respect. Older Americans grew up during a time when manners and respect were part of everyday etiquette. If they are talking, listen without interruption. Don’t address them by their first name unless you’re given the okay to do so. Being respectful may not only brighten their day, but also yours, as you may learn a thing or two (or just feel good about bringing joy to someone).
3. Ask Them For Advice
Sadly, ageism exists, even though elders are some of the wisest people in society. It’s a shame to think that a senior citizen, with a lifetime of experience, would be overlooked for their insight. 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.
4. Enjoy a Meal Together
Eating together is a wonderful way to catch up and connect with someone. Whether you venture to a favorite restaurant, pack a picnic, or visit your senior loved ones home, try to eat together on a regular basis.
5. Discuss Family History and Heritage
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. Family history translates into stronger family bonds. In fact, recent studies have shown that children who have more knowledge of their family history also tend to show greater emotional resilience, facing stress and challenges more effectively as they have a stronger sense of who they are and where they come from.
6. Pick Up The Phone
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 how much it can mean just to take time out of our day to say ‘hello’ and chat. Phone calls are a personal way of saying you care.
7. Express Your Appreciation
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 and giving people purpose, especially older Americans, is a very positive message. If there is a senior who has positively impacted you, make sure to share this with them; it will probably bring a smile to their face.
8. Visit Senior Communities
The world moves at a fast pace and people sometimes forget what’s truly important. Seniors are sometimes forgotten, but are still very much alive. By visiting senior living communities, you communicate to seniors that you care. You give them purpose and conversation through social interaction. Visiting a senior living community, whether your loved one lives there or not, is an excellent way to reach out to the older community and show them you care.
When we give, we feel better. Pay it forward is a good mantra to follow. It’s the infinitely touching moments in our lives that make it all worthwhile, and often times these moments are the ones spent volunteering for seniors and giving to those in need. A little goes a long way in a nursing home or senior living community. Discover how the holidays are an excellent opportunity for volunteering in a senior living community as there are often activities and opportunities to help with festive gatherings and celebrations.