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Spending time with the elderly
by Storyteller. July 1st 2013, 02:57 PM

Spending time with the elderly
By MedusoidMycelium (Lydia)

Oftentimes, we can become consumed by our busy lives and forget some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, towns and cities - the elderly. You might have the opportunity to spend time with elderly relatives around the holidays, but you can make an even greater impact by attempting to spend time with them and other elderly adults on a regular basis, not just during special occasions.

Elderly adults have a lot to offer, such as words of wisdom and advice based on life experiences, stories about their childhoods, and personal accounts of world events that affected them over the course of their lifetimes. Sometimes, it may be hard to know how to strike up a conversation with an elderly adult. You may think, "they're not cool," "they won't understand me," or "they'll just lecture me." They may be hard of hearing, have poor or limited eyesight, or have another physical condition such as arthritis, but this should not stop you from spending time with them. Conversations don't have to be long and drawn out - if you know your relative or neighbour well, then start with their interests. If you don't know them well, then you can ask about their interests and find out what they like to do.

There are many ways to spend time with an elderly adult, and it doesn't always have to be conversational. You could volunteer one or two hours a week at an elderly care facility, giving the residents manicures, playing a simple game of cards with them, and so on. If you have an elderly neighbour, offer to help them out by doing their gardening for them or going to shops for them. You can invite them out to a coffee shop or cafe for a little while over the weekend. Elderly adults may have a harder time doing these things because they cannot travel far, or have family circumstances and other factors that affect their ability to "get away," but this should not deter you. If you go to their residence or they come to see you, take it upon yourself to spend some time with them - show them your latest school project or report, ask them what they enjoyed doing at school, share stories, or bake together. Offer to go for a walk with them, even if it's just around the block or street. Play a game with them, give them manicures, pedicures, hand massages, or foot massages, and talk to them about their childhood.

Most of the elderly adults in our communities have witnessed or lived through historic events, such as World Wars I and II. Hearing about these events from someone who has lived through them may be interesting, because you will hear things from their perspective rather than just hearing about it from a TV show or reading about it from a textbook. Ask them about their experiences during that time in history (if they are willing to discuss it). The elderly have volumes of life experience, and can provide fascinating insight into events of the past.

According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, an estimated 6% (or 2 million) of elderly adults in the United States struggle with a diagnosable depressive disorder. Similar numbers can be seen in other countries as well, and it is believed the onset of depression generally results from life stressors, such as chronic illness, the death of an elderly spouse, or placement in a residential care facility. The elderly often feel forgotten and isolated, so why not take it upon yourself to spend a couple of hours a week with an elderly adult? Elderly people have a lot to offer, and the best gift you can give in return may be spending time with an elderly adult who may not have anyone significant in their lives, or may not be able to travel far in order to see their family.

Other Articles that Might Interest You
If you found this article interesting, or would like to pursue it further, we've put together a couple of links for you from the rest of our Articles Section:
* Benefits of Volunteering
An article all about volunteering and its advantages. If you're interested in spending more time with the elderly, many places would be happy for volunteers to do so.
* Elder Abuse
An article about elder abuse, its tell-tale signs and what you can do about it to make sure that your elderly relatives or friends aren't suffering in their old age.
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