Recently I had a book signing with a very special group of people. That day I left the house earlier than usual to give myself plenty of time for set up. It was imperative to be punctual as the guests no doubt, would arrive in a timely manner. While pulling up to the main entrance I was greeted by Natalie who was in charge of the day’s festivities. Her welcoming smile put me at ease as she reached into the car to help with some bags. This sharp executive had a work ethic that was beyond impressive and the well being of today’s guests was at the heart of everything she did.
Set up was complete 15 minutes beforehand and as predicted, one by one the room filled with guests. Happy faces and warm chatter made for a perfect afternoon. Folks introduced themselves while others offered to help in any way they could. By 2pm everyone was seated and ready, grateful to be invited. I’d prepared a talk which was geared towards the audience and it was refreshing to look out and see broad smiles and nods. Clearly this was a group of skilled listeners. Hands raised, the interactions were interesting with witty comments sprinkled through out. How fun it would be to know these people in their earlier years! Was it really possible for this much wisdom and knowledge to be found in one place?
To look around the room, some may have noticed gray-haired folks with wrinkles, walkers & wheelchairs. For me I saw lawyers, nurses, educators, veterans, doctors and engineers. Fantastic parents, grandparents and volunteers made up part of the group too. All were contributing members of society with endless accomplishments. The type of people who’d exemplify the meaning of a “good neighbor.” It was an honor to be in the same place with these amazing retirees! Life had passed by and now it was time for them to enjoy the “golden years.”
In a world where some may consider the elderly “invisible” it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Studies show that spending time with the elderly not only benefits them but the rewards are endless for all age groups, including children! Whenever I’m “in their graces” it’s fascinating to listen to the compelling tales and witness their incredible strength, all while aging gracefully. To hear eye witness stories of survivors who lived through the Great Depression, World War 2 and so much more is priceless Even when the brain slows and memory fades, their valuable contributions continue into the “twilight years.”
Good Shepherd Event
Several years ago I made the decision to leave my executive position to help care for my mom. She was transitioning from the family home to a smaller place. The conversations we had and the stories Mom told me changed my life for the better in so many ways. At the age of 98 it’s an honor to still spend time with her.
“They teach us about enduring hardships and life’s challenges. What starts out as a way to help them, we end up reaping rich rewards.”
Good Shepherd Friends
Gram & Jordan
Here are some of the benefits I’ve discovered since investing time with the elderly:
You'll become a better listener:
Mom’s ability to hear has decreased significantly as well as her vision. Sometimes it takes longer to be able to communicate a thought or remember something. We walk at a slower pace and I offer my arm and assistance while helping her get in and out of the car. By spending time, I’ve learned to slow down and to listen well.
Become more patient and sensitive to others needs:
The importance to show respect and kindness brings great joy to the receiver as well as the giver. Sadly, many seniors are ignored or not taken seriously. Despite their limitations, they can still sense a lack of interest. Getting to know them will help you to become more patient and sensitive to others needs.
You'll gain wisdom and acquire many “cool” qualities:
Years ago I didn’t appreciate the work ethic of my parents. Now I take pride in being organized and to arrive on time for appointments, church etc. All work is double checked and my very best is given when it comes to completing projects and tasks. Family traditions once found silly have become invaluable and are part of every holiday. By expanding our horizons and connecting with the older population we have the opportunity to learn new things.
As a youngster do you remember any positive experiences you had with an elderly person? What are your fondest memories?
The advantages of children interacting with the elderly:
We want our children to grow up to be kind and respectful. When these traits are demonstrated at an early age, the chances that they will continue through adulthood are much higher. This will make a difference for us as we are older.
When children are around older role models it helps them to recognize that ALL people have value and worth at every stage of life. This can have a major positive impact on our future society.
Being around the young can trigger memories of their own youth! How often do we see where children have made cards for residents at a home? It made their day!
It’s never too early to emphasize the importance of loving and helping others while experiencing something great! We are meant to be a community and to care for each other.
For generations our family has shown honor and respect by holding the family elders in high esteem. The interaction was considered a privilege and witnessed with my parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Today, Kaitlyn and Jordan show the same kindness and compassion towards their grandmother. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do for her!
Gram, Jordan & Kaitlyn
It’s not too late to start!
More than ever, our culture has experienced loneliness. If you’ve ever felt forgotten or question your worth this can be difficult at any age-especially the elderly. When we spend time with elderly folks it will provide a sense of dignity and purpose. They’ll feel valued and be more open to share their wisdom. It’s a win-win situation for everyone to feel loved and appreciated!
If you don’t have family or a family nearby there’s endless ways to find a new friend. Retirement communities, churches, senior centers and your local office for the aging will be able to help connect you with that special person(s). The amount of time you choose to spend doesn’t matter but the fact that you DID will make all the difference.
So often we work and socialize with mainly people of our own age. Being with the elderly is a wonderful “investment.” Webster’s dictionary defines the word as “a profitable return, an increase in value, usefulness.”
The writing of the true story, “All That I Had” was inspired by spending quality time with my mother. In June she will turn 99 and it is an honor and privilege to walk next to her. Whether we head for an appointment or go out for lunch I want to be there with her in the “twilight” years. Time constraints are not always easy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The day our loved ones will no longer be with us is out of our control. But for now, we can control the decision to spend as much time as possible with them.
Dear readers, I want to thank you for reading my April blog. I wish you a wonderful spring season as we enjoy all of earth’s beauty. Please look out for one another and know how special you are to me.
Kathy Ann Corse, Author