Written by Kim Thomas
When you think about the older person who really made a difference in your life, who is it that comes to mind? For me, it was the little old lady who lived next door to my family who let me call her “Grandma Lilly.” I was seven years old and lonely because I had just moved more than 1000 miles away from my extended family in Canada. Grandma Lilly let me come to her house each day after school where she lovingly served me cookies and together, we sat on the rickety front porch swing as she smiled tenderly and gently patted my hand with hers. The way she intently listened to my stories and hung on every word I said made me feel like I hung the moon! Now, 46 years later, as I reflect back on these memories, I see how the relationship forged between us had just as much impact on Grandma Lilly as it did me. My taking time to sit and talk with her when others seemed too busy made her feel just as special as I did and let her know that she was special too!
Unfortunately, in today’s culture, it is not uncommon for the senior population to fall into the stigma of being “less than,” feel dismissed, swept aside or simply forgotten. Instead of being valued for their treasured experience and wisdom, seniors commonly get treated like a nuisance or obligation. Over time, the death of a spouse, family moving farther away, or the loss of mobility or productivity can lead to loneliness and isolation with more and more time spent alone. Weeks can go by without them getting out or having even the opportunity to speak to others.
It is too easy for us to get caught up in our own lives, our own schedules, and our own pressures of life that we forget to give honor where honor is due. Job 12:12 tells us that “wisdom is found among the aged and long life brings understanding.” In other words, there are a lot of things we can learn from our elders if we will just slow down and take the time to listen.
In this busy world, challenge yourself to reach out and tell a senior who has had a positive impact on your life just how much they mean to you. Rather than leave them behind, love them unconditionally. This season of their life is when they need it the most. Above all else, keep in mind that one day, you and I will be seniors too!
Ways to Honor our Elders:
- Recognize the contributions they have made to our families as well as the community. We wouldn’t be where we are today without some of the unconditional sacrifices they have made.
- Call and check in on them. Take time out of your day to ask if there is anything they need that you can bring them. One 5-minute phone call can communicate the message you care about their wellbeing. Establish a routine for yourself such as when you are driving home and commit to checking in to see how they are doing.
- Stop by and pay them a visit. It doesn’t have to be long. Stop by and share a cup of coffee. Ask questions about family history, heritage, and traditions while allowing them to reminisce. Surprise them and take them for breakfast or a special lunch.
- Ask for advice. Be open to their words of wisdom, years of experience, and views on life.
- Mail a card to them and specifically list things you appreciate about them. Offer sincere words of encouragement.
- Be aware of seniors around you who may not have any family close by. Aging parents are lonely for family. Consider “adopting” someone who is alone and inviting them to join in your family activities. If there is a senior living community nearby, ask if there is a resident who does not got visited often and shower that person with kindness.
- Involve your children and teach them to respect and honor elders as well. As parents, we role model behaviors we want our children to follow. Younger generations need to learn the importance of making time to listen and spending unselfish time with others. Lead by example.
- Recognize that the Holidays can be a lonely time for some. Pay special attention during this season and look for ways to bless a senior who lives alone.
- Pray and ask God to help you see others the way He does. Expect Him to bring those people across your path that He would have you show special honor to.
ABOUT: Kim Thomas is a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist and I have a private practice, There’s Hope! Counseling. I am a monthly co-host on KNYD Oasis Network Radio. I am married with a blended family. I’m a mom of 4, mother-in-love to 2, and stepmom to 3 kiddos, and a dog mom to Rae. Contact info is (918)277-0777 or www.thereshopehere.com
Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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