RASHMI OBEROI | 10 APRIL, 2021
Celebrate Our Elderly
~ We were taught to respect everyone, especially those who were older and wiser than we were from whom we could learn ~
These words reverberate from my childhood and hold ground in today’s times when you see people around you with little or no patience while dealing with seniors. Common grace and manners are to treat our elders with dignity and respect. Sadly, instead of treating our elders with the appreciation and respect they deserve, many are often either too busy or simply dismiss them and their contributions to their community and family.
Seniors have a thing or two to teach us about enduring change and handling life’s adversity. Even if a senior’s hearing or memory isn’t what it was in the past, our elders have great wisdom to impart. Younger generations must learn the importance of respecting their elders and make time to listen and spend quality with them.
I spend a lot of quality time with my parents and people of their age group… The time with them is to be treasured. As they move on in age… They need you more. They need love, affection, care, looking after and your full undivided attention unconditionally. This is the least you can do for them.
It riles me to see people in daily life dismiss the elderly without a care. Shopkeepers are impatient… House staff are flippant… Sometimes your own family members are condescending… And then come the motorists – honking and cursing the ‘slow’ drivers… in hindsight, the ones actually following rules! I watch and I see. And it displeases me!
I understand that people can become uncomfortable dealing with the emotions of aging and the trials and tribulations of the golden years, which contributes to ageism which is defined as a tendency to regards older persons as debilitated and unworthy of attention. Unfortunately, this sentiment is rampant, but we have to remember that seniors are knowledgeable people who have something to contribute to society in the wisdom they’ve gained from their life histories, even if it’s a story about life or history. It’s more than respect — it’s about really taking the time to listen to our grandparents and parents.
The simple act of paying attention does wonders, even if loved ones suffer from cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. After all, learning history and spending quality time together can benefit everyone and create irreplaceable memories. Our grandparents and parents raised us to believe in the importance of treating others with courtesy and respect. These past generations have held tight to their dignity, ethics, faith, honesty and integrity; which is exactly why arrogance or even inadvertent belittling is not okay — even when the goal is to protect, rather than harm.
Being patient in difficult situations can be exhausting, but showing our elders’ respect is always the best choice. I detest it when family members and outsiders are impatient or snappish while dealing with elders. Condescending tones send me spiralling into annoyance. It’s important to remember to be not only considerate but also polite to people whose bodies and minds are aging, simply because of the hands of time. Ageism exists, but being kind and showing compassion is at least one step in the right direction in a world that is often devoid of manners.
The Information Age has put technology at the forefront of human communication; making today a little less personal than days of the past. Between bustling schedules of juggling family life and work, in addition to reaching people through cyberspace as the main mode of connection; manners have somehow been forgotten. Instead of treating our elders with the appreciation and respect they deserve, many are often either too busy or simply dismiss them and their contributions to community and family.
Senior citizens have a lifetime of experience. They comprise a generation that has survived The Great Depression, World War II, Partition, Recessions, Turbulent times, Border skirmishes and Wars. These seniors have a thing or two to teach us about enduring change and handling life’s adversity. It is not difficult to be nice to our elders:
1. Spend time with them (and listen intently).
2. Be polite.
3. Ask for advice.
4. Eat together.
5. Discuss family heritage, history and traditions.
6. Call them.
7. Tell them how much you appreciate and respect them.
There’s an undeniable strength in family stories. In fact, putting together an oral family history can not only bring family members together and strengthen the ties between generations, but they can also educate us about family genetics, personalities, and more. Family history translates into stronger family bonds and life successes. In fact, recent studies have shown that children who have more knowledge of their family history also tend to show greater emotional resilience, facing stress and challenges more effectively as they have a stronger sense of where they come from and who they are.
It is truly said that ‘a disrespectful person never earns respect for himself’. Respect for elders is one of the most important characteristic of any culture. On a larger scale, respect is not to be restricted only within the house. Be it the school, college or public place, the elders deserve respect.
It's never good to be unkind to anyone, but it's especially terrible to see older people being pushed aside. After all, these folks have life experiences that we should listen to and learn from. Remember that being gracious to everyone, regardless of their age, shows your true character. Ignoring those who have been around much longer than us shows a lack of manners on our part.
When we give, we feel better. Pay it forward is a good mantra to follow. It’s the infinitely touching moments in our lives that make it all worthwhile.
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