H.O.W - Helping and Showing Kindness to the Elderly
Have you imagined yourself at 80 years old, ninety, or even a hundred?
This type of thinking often scares most people. They don't want to think about getting old and not being able to do a lot of the things that they're used to doing.
Being old and being forced to rely on other people for basic needs, entertainment or anything else can't be easy. Especially by those who are in a lot of pain at the same time.
Yet, so few of us take the time to bring some sort of joy or comfort to those who are in the final stages of their lives.
We're too busy. Our lives are too important.
You've heard granny tell that story a hundred times, and grandpa moans too much about his aches and pains. Maybe you don't have any grandparents.
What if that were you in twenty, forty, sixty years from now? What if all you were aching for was just half an hour of someone else's time?
The Elderly and Shopping: Lending a Helping Hand
Sometimes we might get annoyed or impatient with elderly people in the grocery stores.
They walk slowly, or they're in wheelchairs.
They stand in the middle of the aisles trying to decide what to buy, or they make a scene with one of the employees because their favourite brand of jam is sold out.
Have you considered at all how hard it must be for most of them to go shopping?
Imagine the frustration of not being able to do things as fast as you used to. Or the fact that you're unable to hear properly, or your vision isn't quite what it used to be.
Then, top that off with running children playing tag, stressed-out parents with full trolleys who charge their way down the aisles, and people who are too self involved within themselves and each other to notice that you need a helping hand.
Shopping as a senior citizen must be a nightmare. And I haven't even mentioned the check out or parking area.
I know that if I was struggling to look for something, I'd want someone to lend me a quick helping hand. It takes less than a minute, and you'd be saving that person more than that.
Ways To Help:
- Smile at them, even if they don't smile back
- Offer to grab an item that's out of reach on a shelf
- Call an employee if they need help finding an item
- Move out of their way if you can in the aisles
- Ignore their grumpiness or sarcasm if you're an employee
- Offer to help them load their groceries in the car if they're on their own
If you're lucky enough to have a grandparent or grandparents still around, you should treasure them.
It doesn't matter if they talk about the same day that they fell in love fifty years ago every time you see them.
It doesn't matter if they moan about the weather, how horrible your hair looks, or the fact that Aunty June hasn't been to visit them in ages.
Whether they show it or not, they appreciate the visit and having someone to talk to - especially if it's their grandchildren.
There are so many things that we can learn from our grandparents - they have a whole lifetime of knowledge and stories at their fingertips...we can learn so much from them.
All they ask from us is just a few minutes of our time every couple of weeks (or more if that's possible).
If you don't live close to your grandparents, pick up the phone and give them a call.
What You Can Do:
- Don't say, "You told me that last week, Granny!" Just smile and nod as though you're hearing the story for the first time.
- Talk to them about what's going on in your life - give them something to be proud of and brag about to their friends.
- Bring them sweet treats and/or flowers whenever you visit. Remember how they used to spoil you when you were small? Grandparents like to be spoiled as well.
- Chat about their favourite sports, soap operas, or books.
- Reminisce with them about the "good old days" and family holidays.
- Take them out for an outing - a museum, a picnic outside, a walk through the park, etc.
Retirement Homes and the Elderly
No one wants to be put in a retirement home. Unfortunately, this is often the case when people become old and they need somewhere to live where they'll be able to have medical assistance in a hurry if they need it.
What many people don't realize, is that retirement homes are often very lonely and depressing places.
Fellow neighbours are dying around them, visits from family are few and far between - or not at all. Life becomes stagnant and there's often a feeling of being "boxed in" away from the rest of the world.
If you have grandparents or parents who live in retirement homes, make it your mission to visit them as often as possible.
You wouldn't want to lie in bed all day on your own when you're old with no one to talk to, would you?
If you don't have parents or grandparents in retirement homes, there's no reason why you can't make a gesture to improve the lives of the elderly living there - even if it's only for an hour.
A Small Effort Makes a World of Difference
- If you're a people's person, visit a retirement home in your area and go speak to one or a few residents who have no one to talk to. Find out from the nurses which residents don't have any family, or who needs some cheering up.
- If you're in the catering business, offer to cook their meals. More often than not, the food served in these homes leave a lot to be desired.
- If you can, bring your dog (if it's not too big), or a friend and her baby with for a visit.
- Bring photographs and videos of places of interest to them (e.g. nature photos, funny or prank video clips, etc.)
- If you're in a drama or music group, arrange to put on weekly or monthly shows for everyone.
There are literally hundreds of ways to put a smile on someone's face or bring them some joy. Being old isn't easy and it's not pleasant.
If we only take a few moments out of our own lives to do something special or comforting for someone else, we'd be making an enormous difference to them.
Think about yourself twenty, forty, or sixty years from now and how you would like to be treated.
This Hub is part of the H.O.W (Humanity One World) movement. We're trying to spread awareness to make the world a better place one act at a time. If you'd like to join, please visit the H.O.W Facebook Page. The more people that join and try spread the word, the better!