Why and how to take care of the elderly?

Taking care of grandpa.

Our modern age has seen many rapid changes.

Among these is how people view the elderly.

At one time respect for the elderly was almost universal.

But that is not the case today.

Ancient Egypt’s young men were taught to rise before their elders as a mark of honor, yielding first place to them.

The young of ancient Greece were taught to be silently respectful before older persons.

In some parts of the world today older persons are still given much esteem.

In a section of the Russia where many live to be over 100, it is said that a contributing factor to their longevity is the respect that they are given.

They are made to feel useful and are wanted, holding a dignified place in society.

Earlier in United States history, older folks were usually respected and obeyed.

Parents took care of their children, and, when the children were grown, it was understood that they would take care of their parents.

Quite a contrary attitude is developing in many lands.

In this regard, an older college professor observed:

Old age is a disease in America. The aged person becomes a leper, to be put away in an institution, or, if lucky, and affluent, in an expensive colony, separated from the rest of mankind.”

A study of schoolchildren by the University of Maryland’s Center on Aging found that youngsters usually viewed elderly people as “sick, sad, tired, dirty and ugly.”

It is a tragedy of the times that elderly people are less and less respected by younger ones.

Even more tragic is the fact that more children do not consider it an obligation to care for their aging parents.

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Certainly the elderly need to feel wanted, loved.

If they are not, they may just give up on life.

Dr. Amos Johnson, of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said:

I have seen old people in a reasonably healthy condition who, when put away in the isolation of custodial care facilities, totally lose interest in life. They refuse to communicate, refuse to eat, become totally bedridden, waste away and die. This is a disease process called ‘isolation’ and should be so designated on the death certificate.”

Hidden treasure

Grandfather and grandchild.

Younger persons who take an interest in older ones often find the experience enriching.

One middle-aged man observed that some of the most interesting, profitable, “golden” hours of his life were those spent in the company of older folks.

Why can this be so?

Older persons have lived longer, have usually experienced many more things in life.

Their views and recollections can be very valuable.

They can be like a hidden treasure.

But a treasure, to be useful, has to be discovered and used.

The rich mine of information, wisdom and views of older persons needs to be tapped.

So children, teen-agers, young adults and middle-aged adults would do well to exchange views with their elders.

And if the older ones may be reluctant to offer their comments, tactfully ask them for their opinions.

You may be surprised at how rewarding this can be.

In turn, it will provide them with encouragement and uplift.

It is not only good counsel and information that older ones can give; many upset young people have found great peace of mind in the company of older ones, who often have a warmth, affection and understanding that is very appealing.

A kind word from such a one can help to ease the problems of the day.

That is why grandparents usually make such excellent baby-sitters.

This does not mean that every elderly person constantly speaks words of wisdom and uplift.

Nobody does that.

They may often have erroneous views; but so do others.

They may also have peculiarities, as do others.

Yet, notwithstanding their imperfections, many of which are magnified by old age,

How you can help an elderly person?

Helping an elderly person.

Two elderly ladies, friends, lived in separate homes in the same town.

One day there was a heavy snowfall.

The next morning, when one of the ladies looked outside, she was amazed to find that her sidewalk had been shoveled clean of snow.

The woman wondered who could have done this kind deed without even letting her know or asking payment.

She called her friend to tell her about it.

But her friend said, in equal amazement, that her sidewalk, too, had been shoveled clean.

Weeks later, there was another heavy snow.

The next morning, both found that their sidewalks had again been shoveled.

Later, another heavy snow was forecast, and it came.

That evening one of the ladies went to bed early and was up the next morning by 6.

When she looked out the window, there was a 12-year-old boy shoveling the snow.

How happy it made her and her friend to think that someone cared enough to perform such a service.

And why so early in the morning?

So that the elderly ladies would not see him and feel obligated to pay for his work!

That boy performed a service that was of great practical help.

It is a sample of the many things that can be done by others to ease the burdens that come with advanced age.

1. Tactful Help

Helping an old lady with repairs.

At the same time, however, balance and tact are needed.

One must not become overbearing or bossy in offering help, or short-tempered.

It is important, wherever possible, that the older person still feel in control of his or her life.

As an example, one day a man saw an older woman carrying a heavy package.

He politely asked: “Could I help you carry that, ma’am?”

She smiled, expressed gratitude for the offer, but declined, saying: “No, I can still do this for myself.”

On the other hand, a man was about to cross a busy intersection of a city in mid-winter.

He saw an elderly lady just standing at the curb with an apprehensive look on her face.

Then he noticed the mound of snow and ice that she had to cross.

Turning to her, he asked: “May I help you?” She quickly responded: “Oh, yes, would you please?

2. Visits mean much

Visiting grandmother.

Visits with elderly folks mean much to them.

As one older person said of those who visit:

They cannot know what joy they bring to one whose children and grandchildren are far away.”

You may have an interesting experience to tell them, or some items from the news that may be of value to them.

However, many times your just being a good listener is the most important service you can give.

Another thing that many elderly folks would appreciate when their eyesight is not what it used to be is your reading aloud to them.

You may have an upbuilding item from a letter you received.

Or they may have some material they would like you to read to them.

At times, a small token of your interest can also be brought in the form of a gift.

It can be food, a plant, or perhaps something you have made.

Yes, you may even bring a money gift if you see a need.

Then, too, you could offer to cook them a meal, or perhaps offer to take them out to one if they are able to go.

Or they might appreciate being invited to other homes or gatherings.

Offer to accompany them there.

And when this is done, check to see if they are being cared for at the gathering.

Sometimes the aging process results in illnesses or infirmities that prevent one from going out to care for necessary matters, such as shopping.

It would be a real kindness to offer to do this, or to see that it gets done.

Yes, there are many ways that others can help to make life more enjoyable for older ones.

Doing so shows a good spirit of giving.

It helps the giver too, bringing more satisfaction to his or her life because of knowing that the right thing has been done.

And they usually get greater love shown to them by the recipient.

That is the spirit behind the good deed that the 12-year-old boy performed for the two elderly ladies when he shoveled the snow off their sidewalks.


3. Financial help

Health care financial help.

In many lands, there are various agencies of government that are able to offer financial assistance, and it would be proper to use these.

At times, though, forms of financial help from the outside are not enough, or do not exist.

Then what financial obligation, in particular, do one’s own grown children have toward aging parents, and even grandparents?

To say that one should not have to accept the burden of elderly parents really does not make sense.

The children were cared for by their parents in many ways.

For 18 to 20 years or more they depended on the parents for food, housing, clothing, education, money and other things.

This included being cared for when they were helpless babies, as well as when they got sick.

Why, then, should it seem wrong for children, when grown, to take up the responsibility of caring for their aging parents?

Of course, the time may come when it is no longer possible personally to provide the care that one of advanced age needs if that one becomes incapacitated.

It may be that better care could be taken of them in a nursing home that specializes in this.

If this becomes necessary, they should be visited often.

Spending one’s last years in a nursing home is not pleasant.

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