We can view the elderly in two ways: they’re like a stinky cheese or a revered fine wine. In a society plagued by finding value in youth, the newest gadget and anything new and improved we’ve done ourselves a disservice. There is great value in valuing the elderly. From what we can learn from our past as individuals, a community and society the life lessons are pretty much endless. The value in valuing the elderly benefits an older and younger generation if we allow it.
The stinky cheese mindset…
You let cheese sit out it gets squishy and can emit an odor. For whatever reason, there are those who view the elderly as being a burden to society holding little value and simply get in the way of progress. What isn’t understood here is that the elderly can enhance our progress is we just simply stopped for a second and listened. Too often we race at a gazillion miles an hour and can perceive anyone who can’t keep up as a hindrance. That mindset is detrimental and foolish.
Are all old people super awesome and pleasant overflowing with wisdom and insight? Absolutely not. Just as not all youth are positive, possess wisdom or have something stellar to contribute. When we generalize we lose out massively. That choice is ours. Mindset and what we choose to ignore or learn from those around us is our decision. It’s one way too many lose out on simply because of generalization that is wildly inaccurate.
The value in valuing the elderly
The elderly have a heck of lot of life lessons to pass our way if we choose to listen. Whether it be relating to finances, relationships or the stark reality that life is short and keeping our priorities focused the choice is ours as to whether we are willing to learn or not. Do we have to do or implement every strategy and lesson that is directed our way? Absolutely not. The first step, which is often the most challenging, is taking a deep breath, stop doing whatever we’re doing and ask them a question. Sometimes it’s even easier than that. That someone willing to lend insight may be doing so without prompting. All we have to do is listen.
My Grandmother turned ninety nine this week. Think about that for a second. I try to wrap my mind around what she has experienced in the way of history, change, life, etc. in nearly one hundred years on earth and it’s hard to comprehend. I am grateful to have had the privilege in celebrating her day with her. She was ecstatic.
I love my Grandma to pieces, but she can say and do things that drive me crazy. What life and wisdom have taught me? There are things I can say and do that drive her crazy. I can allow her antics to give me the green light to dismiss everything she says or I can be glean from her wisdom and discard that ‘stuff’ that need not apply. It’s pretty much that simple. The choice is our own.
You’re a might fine red wine, Grandma
I remember the first time I told Grandma Gert that. She laughed. I love hearing her laugh. In a lifetime where she lived through the Depression, the realities of being persecuted for being a Jew, to possessing a resiliency and determination that was wired into her out of circumstances. I admire her.
It’s amazing what we can learn if we slow down a bit. If we ask questions. If we choose to listen. We can learn things about our family history we didn’t know. There’s the ability to learn things about our community, country and beyond. We can also learn about ourselves in ways we’ve never thought possible. It’s amazing what can happen when we begin to use our ears to tune in without being guided by our mouthes.
The elderly can also teach us how to communicate. Communication is something of a lost art and we desperately need it for ourselves and our children. It makes us better as human beings not allowing ourselves to become trapped behind a screen. There’s power in hearing another human beings voice. There’s something tremendously personal about connecting with another person’s eyes. It’s overwhelming.
Today, I stand with the elderly as a fine wine. A revered, rocking bottle of red that has yet to be uncorked. May we veer from the stinky cheese mindset and know we can all learn greatly from one another. As today is simply another day, may we allow it to be filled with new opportunity to learn, pause and listen.