Life does not stand still, but many older folks wish it would. Many older folks long for the “remember when…” days–the days when they felt as invincible as we do today.
This Top 10 helps us to honor and connect to the older folks we love so much.
- Honor their wisdom: Bottom line here is life is a tremendous teacher. They have been learning a lot longer than we have.
- Listen with your heart: Not unlike us, older folks want to not only be heard, but really listened to. If you listen well enough, you can hear the message that they want YOU to have things in life that they never had.They are trying to tell you HOW. Listen.
- Laugh with them: It happened one Sunday. Out of the blue, yet not unexpectedly.There was Grandma standing in the kitchen dressed for church with her purse on one shoulder, a dainty linen hankie in one hand, wearing her bra on the outside of her dress. A time for hugs and laughing and patience.
- Hear their stories: Our lives are stories. Connecting people and places and years. The stories hold a person’s life, dreams, successes, challenges, wins, defeats, and triumphs. An older person’s stories are about what made them who they are. This is the WHO they still want for you to know and be with.
- Trace the lines on their face: The lines are memories. See the smile lines around their eyes? Those you put there with the antics of your childhood. See the lines and marks on their hands? They came with washing dishes thousands of times, making beds, putting up the holiday decorations, assembling bicycles, building sandcastles with you. Honor your loved ones for what those lines represent.
- Know that older people are you: Later. They ask themselves… “Wasn’t it just yesterday I was that new bride, that new mommy, bought that first home, led that boy scout troop up the hiking trail, baked a zillion cupcakes as homeroom mother, drove the children to after-school activities, saw them hit home runs at high school games, packed them up for college, met their ‘one and onlys,’ walked them down the aisle of white, held my first grandchild? Where has the time gone… Who have I become? It seems like just yesterday…”
- Understand the impact of loss: Aging involves loss. A lot of loss. This may include loss of independence, loss of friends, loss of bodily functions, loss of power, loss of their own home, loss of memory, loss of keen vision, loss of energy, loss of time, loss of hope, loss of a long future ahead, loss of skills, loss of life partners, loss of potency, loss of intimacy, loss of privacy, loss of familiar routines.
- See the stubbornness as fear: Imagine what it might be like to enter a roomful of people at a party. Sounds like fun, right? Well, not so fast. The noise sounds like a wind tunnel because your hearing device doesn’t function optimally in noisy, open areas. You are told that “everyone you know will be there,” but deep inside you know that you can’t remember their names. You can’t even see well enough to watch them walking towards you which might give you time to TRY to remember…if you only could. And you can’t remember for the moment who brought you here, so you feel some anxiety about when and how you are getting home. Sometimes…it feels easier to just stay home.
- Show them the pictures: Nothing is as powerful for the human memory as a photograph. Take the time to sit with the ones you love. Show them the pictures. Watch their eyes dance and come alive. The remote memory storage areas will be jump-started and once again you will be blessed with another story revealing their soul.
- Hold them close: This part is for you. There will come a time down the road when they and you won’t be there to touch and hold. Do it now.