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Why Should We Visit the Elderly?

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Here are 10 Great Reasons to Visit Our Elderly:

Three Generation Harmonica Trio
Credit: Hollster

Our Three-Generation Harmonica Trio

Why Should We Visit the Elderly? Here are 10 Great Reasons!

Today was a day of much reflection. Several weeks ago, it was decided that my sweet 90-years-young grandmother could no longer properly care for herself. She was consequently placed in an assisted living facility. Of course, like most 90-year-olds, she has some health issues, but no blatant catastrophic event that would warrant jettisoning her into an assisted living facility.

A view from the California Ortega Highway

My grandparents had been married for around 60 years before my grandfather passed away in 2011. Though my grandmother was sad to lose her best friend, she seemed at peace with it and seemed to enjoy a little time alone. My aunt and uncle live very close to my grandma and would take her out on the town frequently and made sure her needs were met. However, after a few years, she began to withdraw socially; she no longer took her regular walks and she didn’t want to leave her home anymore. Before long, she stopped getting dressed for the day, would no longer eat, and didn’t enjoy having visitors as much anymore…she just wanted to lay in bed all day.

Bedroom Slippers
My grandmother had asked the family to come today to pick out the items we wanted out of her home and we were to sell the rest of the items that we didn’t want. Even though death is inevitable for us all, especially when we’re quickly approaching an entire century of being alive, it just made us all feel awful to pick over someone’s stuff while they are still alive. Grandma was already moved into her facility and wanted absolutely nothing from home…nothing! How could she be so resigned to die…just like that?! All she wants is her house dress, a sweater, and her favorite house slippers.

After picking out the items that brought us the fondest memories of my grandparents, we paid Grandma a visit at her new place. When we walked in, she was snoozing peacefully in front of an Astros and Angels game on TV in the main living room. The assisted living house was beautiful; it was a home that was renovated to accommodate an assisted living lifestyle while making everyone feel like they were still in their own homes. We woke her up and visited for awhile. Then my mom cut her long white hair (she had asked for a haircut); the result was stunningly stylish and Grandma's spirits were lifted!

A Glimpse at My Future Self

As our visit wrapped up, we noticed that she couldn’t stop smiling and thanking us for visiting…she was more grateful than usual. We hadn’t seen her look this happy in years! It dawned on me that maybe she was just very depressed…maybe she needed a change of scene and just a loving touch. The gentle combing and cutting of her hair told her that she was loved; I could see it in her glowing, smiling face.

self meme
After today’s visit, I started wondering what it must be like to be inside her 90-year-old body and mind, knowing that your ultimate fate is right around the corner. It must be so scary and lonely to face the impending unknown. She’s just an older version of my own self. I’ll be in her shoes someday, and I know that someday will come sooner than I think. Nearly all of her peers had passed away already and all of the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are busy with their own lives. As I researched anything having to do with our elderly, I was shocked to find so little information on the Internet about our aging community! 

Why Don't We Visit Our Elderly?

Just a simple visit and a touch of the hand brought her light-up-a-room smile back.  We all have plenty of valid reasons why we don’t visit our elderly:

·         We’re too busy and exhausted leading our own lives.

·         Our elderly loved ones live too far away.

·         We feel like we don’t even spend enough time with our own children or significant other, let alone, our elderly.

·         There are more immediate and pressing needs: car repairs, home repairs, or other commitments

·        Visiting our elders reminds us of our ultimate fate

10 Great Reasons to Visit our Elderly

Even if you don’t have any elderly family members, I guarantee that even if you spend just an occasional hour even a few times per year, you’ll feel like you benefit from that visit even more than the person you visit would benefit. 

  1. The love and appreciation you see in their eyes will melt your heart; it recharges the soul and makes you love them and everyone around you.
  2. Being gradually cut off from the outside world is very lonely. Human interaction re-ignites their spark.
  3. Older adults are at higher risk of suffering from depression[1]. 
  4. We can learn a skill from our elderly, such as: crocheting, gardening, dancing, playing a musical instrument, engineering, carpentry, baking, a new game,  and much more! 
    Chess Game
  5. We can receive a fascinating history lesson from a first-hand witness.
  6. We would want to be visited and to know that we matter when we are elderly too.
  7. We can share some of our personal trials and ask for words of wisdom; maybe the elderly person has been though the same trials.
  8. It’s nice for the elderly to receive a visit from someone who isn’t caring only for their physical needs; often times, emotional needs are neglected.
  9. Some elderly people are a total blast; they’ll share a naughty indiscretion or act a little scandalous, leaving you feeling more connected to your elderly friend or family member because this makes you feel like a normal human being.
  10. At the end of your visit, you will leave wondering why you didn’t do this sooner and more often. I know I did!

  

Here are a Few Gift Ideas for Our Elderly Loved Ones:

An iPod shuffle loaded with their favorite songs

Apple iPod shuffle 2GB Silver (4th Generation)
Amazon Price: $49.00 $40.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 14, 2015)
Load this with music favorites for grandma and grandpa!

A Digital Photo Frame Loaded with Family Photos

Philips SPF3402S/G7 10.1-Inch Digital Picture Frames (Brown/Black with White Matte)
Amazon Price: $89.99 $76.26 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 14, 2015)
This photo frame has a familiar, comforting home feel to it. You can load new photos each time you visit.

A Humorous Book About Aging

You're Only Old Once!: A Book for Obsolete Children
Amazon Price: $19.95 $8.95 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 14, 2015)

Warm, Non-Skid Socks

Non Skid Socks - Hospital Socks - 6 Pack - Unisex Pack - Black/Grey/Navy (One Size)
Amazon Price: $34.98 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 14, 2015)
Who doesn't love these at any age!

Good Red Wine (not the cheap stuff)

Madsen Family Cellars "Award Winning Washington Reds" Wine Mixed Pack, 3 x 750 mL
Amazon Price: $63.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 14, 2015)
Red wines from this region are amazing - they're sweet, rich, and smooth! In fact, you can send me one of these if you love me!
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Comments

Sep 17, 2015 6:40pm
dashboardc33
I agree. The elderly are so patient and kind and can talk for hours. They always have a story to tell or something funny to say. I could imagine that they may get bored at their age too.
Sep 18, 2015 8:26am
HollyPerez
Thanks! It bothers me how our culture sort of pushes the aging aside when they have so much to offer. I'm committing to visit my elderly more! :)
Sep 25, 2015 5:54pm
mommymommymommy
My husband and I were both blessed to have our grandmothers into our adult years and our children knew their great-grandmas as well. My older daughter and my Nana shared a birthday, and it was a treat every year to pull her out of school and take two of my favorite ladies to lunch!
Sep 26, 2015 3:11pm
HollyPerez
That's so wonderful! I love hearing that people still treasure our elderly! We have a 95 year old sweet, kind neighbor whose son lives one city away; the son is retired and single and his own family is grown, but the neighbors look after the 95 year old...none of us ever see the son. Breaks my heart...I couldn't just leave my mom on her own like that. My youngest and my mother share the same birthday...my mom was in the delivery room when he was born, so I told her 'happy birthday, I hope you like your present' ;)
Sep 25, 2015 6:16pm
Marlando
I like your article and its a good reminder to practice love and compassion. Two big thumbs from me and a rating. Great topic
Sep 26, 2015 3:12pm
HollyPerez
Thank you so much! Your comment makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!
Oct 30, 2015 4:56pm
LNeves
It's not the first time I see an interesting article, I click, and it is you. You write very well. Congratulations, great article.
Nov 27, 2015 10:38pm
HollyPerez
Wow! What a compliment! Thanks! I've been super busy with travel, holiday stuff, etc (visiting my elders...), and, thus, pulled away from my writing, resulting in me finally looking at the comments. Can't wait to catch up on all of my IB peer writings too!
Feb 1, 2016 11:53am
josephnvadala
This is a really inspiring piece, thanks for sharing! :)
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Bibliography

  1. "Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 5/03/2015. 14/09/2015 <Web >

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