There can be no denying there is a decidedly youth-obsessed slant to our culture. Advertisements, services, and products are all geared toward a younger demographic. Everywhere we turn, we are given the message – both subtle and overt – “younger is better.” While aging comes with its particular challenges (bodily limitations being among them), the geriatric years can be a time of many blessings as well.
A look at geriatrics in different cultures
Contrary to popular belief, aging is not seen the same way by all people. Western countries (i.e. American) specifically see growing older as a negative. Similar views are held in the U.K. as well. However, Eastern countries such as China, Korea, and Japan hold the elderly in high regard. In fact, respecting elders is a central tenant of these cultures. Latin countries such as Mexico are also known for being close to grandparents and great-grandparents, caring for them at home instead of relying on long-term facilities and other institutions.
Seniors have wisdom
It’s a bit of a stereotype that seniors have wisdom, but often, it’s true! Although not every senior will necessarily be a fount of knowledge, many of them have made a special effort to learn and grow as they get older. In addition, a good number of them have been through wars, economic turmoil, social upheaval, and difficult personal times. All this has left them with profound knowledge of their own strength, as well as human nature.
If you are at a crossroads in your life, and would like advice about what to do, try asking a senior. You might be surprised at the guidance they have to offer – and they will likely be pleased that you asked them!
Seniors know what’s important
Ever wonder why seniors are always saying “Slowdown!” and “What’s the rush?” It’s not just because they don’t have full-time jobs to go to anymore. Those who are entering their geriatric years have been around long enough to know that the things we go chasing after don’t always matter. Sometimes, the little items on our to-do list that seem crucial can wait a day or two while we stop and smell the roses.
Often, seniors’ chief complaint is that their families don’t visit frequently enough. Why do you think this is? It’s because they now realize the importance of spending time with loved ones. Of the top regrets people look back on in their lives, few wish they’d spent more time at the office, or running errands.
Seniors carry memories
Seniors have a special place in our society as the “memory carriers” or those who disseminate stories, knowledge, and even language to the next generation. In fact, in certain parts of the world, languages are at risk of dying out unless elders pass down this knowledge to their children and grandchildren. Bonds are formed at family gatherings, reunions, and even just around the dinner table as the oldest people in the family share what it was like “way back when.” This firsthand perspective from days gone by is irreplaceable, and when it is lost, it is lost forever.
Another, more serious example is when victims of the Holocaust share their stories. This generation of children is likely to be the last who will have a chance to meet people who survived that dark time, and hearing their stories is an important piece of preventing history from repeating itself.
A whole new way to look at geriatrics
As you can see, aging doesn’t have to be looked at in a wholly negative light. There are many wonderful things to appreciate about seniors – many of which aren’t found on this list! Talk to an important senior in your life today, and see what love, wisdom, and insight they have to offer. In addition to gaining a better understanding and appreciation of them, you may even find yourself looking forward to your own golden years.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.