Honoring the Elderly

There are many ways we can honor the elderly. The problem today though is that this needs to be learned. In the past, it was a natural part of growing up because of a few reasons: a) how we lived more integrated with our grandparents b) there weren’t so many things distracting us as there are now c) even if we didn’t live together our parents made sure we spent time with them, d) there weren’t nearly as many elderly as we have today (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013 the population of over 65ers doubled) etc.

But now, in the Information Age, all that has changed. Youngsters have lost the capacity of communicating without pressing buttons. And the elderly – in many cases – have no idea how to communicate with the use of buttons. Youngsters often do not even come close to understanding the concept of their loneliness as they squash the feeling by going online.

So what is to be done to change this? There are many ways one can respect the elderly. These include:

Listening

This means really engaging the senior population. Take a set amount of time, leave electrical gadgets at home and talk with them. It will often be just as beneficial to you as it is to them.

Discussing history

This can come in many different forms: general history, personal familial culture and heritage, religion, lifestyles, and more, all of which will successfully strengthen the bond between generations. Discuss who made the money; how it was done and what they learned at school.

Asking for counsel

So often when kids go into the teen years they want nothing to do with their parents. But at the same time they really could benefit from an elder perspective. What better person to approach than their parents’ parents? Grandparents can be surprisingly supportive and helpful in such situations.

Calling them

Take time out of your day to call them. This has the same principle as Number 1. Don’t call them while you’re posting on Facebook. Don’t call them while you’re playing Candycrush. Take time out of your day just for them.

Global Trends

Interestingly when we take a bit of a global analysis, we find that there is different treatment according to different cultures, most notably east versus west. For example, Americans seem to stereotype their seniors. While the elderly do have – in general – a good quality of life, there is ageism in society and the workplace. Indeed, it was found that overall, American elderly are simply not getting the respect they deserve.

Moving over to China, we see something altogether different. Such a stark distinction exists that the law requires respect of the elderly to the extent that the elderly can sue their adult children for emotional and financial abuse. Companies have to give their staff members time off so that they can be with their parents. The elderly population is growing fast so it makes sense for the whole economy. Indeed it is anticipated that by 2050 almost half of the population will be over 50.

In the UK the elderly are valued too. In Scotland for example, the Reshaping Care for Older People program found that the elderly are supported, enjoy positive and full lives and caring for elderly has shifted from hospitals to preventative treatment, rendering the culture to value life rather than treat ailments. Homes are adapted (to help people stay in them longer) and families are very involved in their care.

Remember, you will all (if you merit it) get old some day. Treat the elderly today how you want to be treated tomorrow.