3rd Prize at the Essay Competition: Caring for The Elderly
3rd Prize at the Essay Competition organised by the Department of English and Communication
Khiugiangliu Zofia Gonmei, Allied Health Sciences
Caring for the elderly: a hindrance or an aid to self-development
To care for someone who once cared for us is the highest honour. Getting old is an inevitable process. It is inherent to human being. And with old age comes maturity, wisdom and respectability. Elderly people are precious. They are the revered members of our family, wise sages and keeper of traditions. They are a goldmine storehouse of knowledge.
Personally, I feel caring for the elderly aids to self-development. Old-age is a time when they need help in things they effortlessly do by themselves before. It is a time when they need attention and affection.
Elderly are the truest form of wisdom. They have lived for a long time- from generations to generations. They teach us respect, perseverance, wisdom. By being with them and caring for them establish relationships. Connecting with them we learn to grow. We learn patience and tolerance by caring for them. As they have lived long they know life very well. They have been through the ups and downs of life. We learn how to face problems- we learn everyone have to face problems and anyone can overcome it. Elderly people love to share. They deal with things very deeply. They teach us to look at things in a deeper level rather than waddling in the shallow pool. Elderly helps us to see people as well as ourselves differently- in a good way. There teach us that that there is so much more to things as well as people than they appear. We learn our identity and discover who we really are by being with them. We become more self aware and wiser through all the things they teach and do. Through their actions we imbibe better the seeds they sown Through their calmness and serenity from all the experiences and lessons they have learnt and gathered through the years they provide us a better platform for us follow and imitate as actions speak louder than words. Caring for them benefits us in many ways and prepares us to face life and overcome it. All the little things that we learnt through caring strengthens us and help us to live life in fulfilment and satisfaction; storing all the things that we learnt and doing it.
Elderly teach us the value of family, relationships and life. As humans are industrious being- we don’t like to feel stagnant. We love progress. And through progress we win. Caring for the elders help us to grow in many ways which altogether lead to who we are. We owe to them. We will not be here if it were not for them.
It is everyone’s responsibility to grow into a respectable elder- someone whom we can go to for help and counsel. And as no man is an island and he is constantly shaped and influenced by the experience of life he go through , it is very important that he get the right experience and counsel by being with the diamonds, and storehouse of wisdom and goodness- the elderly!
I was always taught to respect the elders – weren’t you?
But how many of you are really respecting the elderly people around you? What reasons do you have for not doing so?
I ask you because I’ve often seen many elders in the society not being treated well.
I’ve even heard of people not respecting the elderly – especially the young generation nowadays.
And that’s not all; even family members sometimes fail to spend family time with them, which saddens my heart.
I strongly feel that respect towards the elderly, their fortitude, wisdom, knowledge, and grace should be imbibed by us, though sadly it doesn’t happen.
There might be a few exceptions as I also don’t believe that growing old is a sign becoming wiser, but we shouldn’t show disrespect for seniors in any case – isn’t it?
If you come across an elder whom you don’t know, and if he/she isn’t able to prove his/her worth to you – it doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t deserve your respect.
You need to assess the situation and understand the concept of respect and it’s relation to the elderly.
“We were taught to respect everyone, especially those who were older and wiser than we were from whom we could learn.” ~ BeNeca Ward
Meaning of Respecting the Elderly
Respect is the basic component of all cordial relations. If you understand the meaning of disrespect, you’d be able to understand respect better.
Disrespect is the denial of approval or recognition of another person. Many people don’t value the elders and treat them as worthless. But who’re these elders that we talk about?
An elder is someone who has retired and is usually over the age of sixty-five years, though this age may vary because different countries may have their own official age for retirement.
Showing respect to the elder’s means to be kind and considerate towards them and hearing them out, even if you really don’t agree with them.
It’s simply one human showing respect to another, irrespective of their age. But are you doing that? I know many of you do, but I’d like you to create awareness for those who don’t.
“Respect is what we owe; love, what we give.” ~ Philip James Bailey
How is the State of Elders in Today’s World
Things are fast changing nowadays, and elders or grandparents don’t have much of a role in the family any longer. There is no one to listen to them, nor do their own children live near them.
Respect towards elders is fast declining in the society, and it’s sad but true that in many families they’re treated more like old furniture than part of a family.
Or else they are placed in old homes or nursing homes where they spend the rest of their life – lonely and forgotten.
However, it’s a different case if that’s done due to some medical condition that requires regular observation and treatment.
Personally, I still feel that even in such a case arrangements can be made at home so that elders don’t have to stay in such old age homes. No one likes to be at such a place, would you?
But there are some cultures and places around the world where the elderly are still treated with respect.
In these countries and cultures the elders still hold the important position as the head of the family, share their wisdom, guide the youngsters, and pave the way for generations to come.
Speaking of which, the elder’s in my family play a major role in my life. Their love and concern for me and my family is foremost in their mind. Similarly, all of us also have a very high regard for them and all that they do for us.
Why Respecting the Elderly Is Important
The elders need to be honored and respected for all that they’ve done for you and for the society in general.
Gratitude comes in many forms, and you can express it by way of love, kindness, and simply by respecting them – isn’t it?
The elderly were once young and strong. They worked hard to make a living and gave the best years of their lives to raise their children, by caring, protecting, and nurturing them.
Not to mention their contribution to the society, and how they worked hard so that the place or organization that they worked for, prospered.
Also, many of them fought for their country so that we might live. Their sacrifices cannot be forgotten.
I also need to mention that elders in the family have faced many challenges and raised grandchildren when their own children haven’t been around, which is all the more reason for respecting the elderly.
But now that they are in the golden years of their lives, isn’t it time that their children and society gives back to them a little of what all they did for us?
How can you do that, you might ask? Well, begin by just respecting the elderly for starters!
Elderly people need to be respected and it’s one way of making them feel special.
Just notice the way how their faces brighten up and their morale boosts up, when you respect them, listen to them, and express your love and kindness towards them.
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” ~ Bryant H. McGill
It doesn’t cost you anything when you show respect towards elders, but see the pleasure it gives them. In return, you also feel happy by giving them happiness in their live.
Often times, senior citizens are treated with less respect and discriminated due to their age, appearance, race, gender, disability, and income. This may even lead to depression in the elderly.
Respecting the elderly doesn’t mean just to limit it to love and kindness.
Instead, it is also about getting them involved in things that they’re capable of doing. This makes them feel respected that their contribution is valued.
Ways of Respecting the Elderly
There are many ways you can respect the elders in your life, but I’ll just mention a few of them here. You could always add more ways to showing respect towards elders.
- Offer an elderly person your chair or seat if you see them standing while you are sitting.
- Never talk disrespectfully to an elder. Talk directly to them, not around or about them.
- Try to avoid arguing and quarreling with an elder.
- When an elder is speaking, everyone else should remain silent and listen.
- Seek the blessings of your elders before you start on anything new. Things like when you’re going to give an examination, interview, or getting married.
- If an elderly person asks you something, or asks you to do something – answer to them, and do it happily.
- If you see an elderly person not able to manage on their own in the street or market area, or anywhere – accompany them till they permit you to leave.
- Don’t shout at an elder assuming that he/she is deaf or hard of hearing. Being old doesn’t mean they can’t hear. Similarly, if an elder has hearing problems, be considerate and gentle in talking.
- While driving an elder, offer them the front seat or ask them where they’d like to sit first. Also, help them get in and out of the vehicle.
- Always open the door for an elder and hold it till they pass through before closing it.
- Avoid smoking and drinking in front of elders.
- Seek the advice of your elders when you make important decisions of your life.
- Take care of the elderly and avoid sending them to a nursing or old age home.
- While talking to elderly people, find out their interests, get involved in talking to them, and show your interests in their talks. It makes them feel good that despite the age difference they share similar interests, even if you don’t. Moreover, you never stop learning from them too.
- Be patient and tolerant with elders. Chances are that as they age, they may become a little difficult to be around because they’re frustrated being dependent on others.
- Remain compassionate and polite even if your attempts to engage with elders are met with anger, gruffness, or annoyance. Perhaps there are years of pain, frustration, and intolerance at the society or people that they use as a means to cope and protect themselves.
- As they age, elderly people tend to repeat things. Be kind enough and hear them out.
- If you see elders carrying groceries, offer to carry it instead. Or if they are sick, take care of them without feeling bad about doing so.
- Don’t think that the elderly are worthless because they no longer have jobs. Instead, think of how much you can gain from their years of experience and wisdom. Also, how they contribute to a household and some grandparents even take care of their grandchildren.
- Visit the elders in your family if they are living far, or spend time with them if they are nearby. It’s a great way of respecting the elderly in your family and making them feel loved and cared for.
Different cultures would have different ways of respecting the elderly, so a lot depends on how and what works your end.
Like in some cultures the young ones let the elders have food before them, stand up when any elder comes in the room, and don’t refer to them directly by their name.
However, in general the above mentioned ways to respect the elders are the very basic that may be working all over – aren’t they?
I would like you to read my post on how you can take care of elders >> 14 Ways to take Care of Elderly People, and I hope you like it too 🙂
“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” ~ Laurence Sterne
Remember, what goes around, comes around. It’s the basic law of nature and karma.
So, when you instill gratitude, compassion and respect for the elderly in your kids, they too will treat you with love and similar feelings when you are old.
You as parents and caretakers are the role models for your children. If they hear you speak rudely to your elders or not show respect towards elders, there’s no way they will show respect to you or them.
Treating your elders with respect is a privilege, not a chore. Hug and kiss them more often, and let them know how much you appreciate and love them.
Remember, it’s not long before you too will become an elder and be in the same place as them. So, by respecting the elderly you’re only showing you care and understand their feelings.
“I could never love where I could not respect.” ~ Charlotte Elizabeth Aisse
Never forget how you will like to be treated, and treat the elderly people the same way. If you haven’t been respecting the elderly so far, it’s never too late to begin.
Any day is a new day to start 🙂
Over to you –
Do you feel the elders in your society are really respected and treated the way they should be? If you have elders in your family, how do you show respect towards them? What do you do for respecting the elderly around you? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo Credit: DrStarbuck, 123RF Stock Photos, DVIDSHUB
About the author
Harleena SinghHarleena Singh is a positive thinker and a freelance writer. She loves to write inspiring and thought provoking posts on self-improvement, family, relationships, health, and other aspects of life. She's also a blogger, who loves to share her blogging knowledge and experiences.
childrencultureelderlyeldersfamilygrandchildrengrandparentsgratitudehonorloveold ageold age homeparentsrespectsenior citizenseniorssociety