Spending Valuable Time with the Elderly

They say youth is wasted on the young.


Throughout our lives are stages….chapters…phases to get through.


When we are so very young, we cannot fathom growing old. We grow old one day at a time across the decades. One day, we’re looking at photos or perhaps ourselves in a mirror wondering what happened.

I had the good fortune of growing up around old people. I’ve always possessed great empathy for the elderly. I’ve always loved old people and been eager to embrace and reassure them all will be well. There’s depth in their eyes only they understand. Their eyes are windows into their souls and the lives they have lived. There is profound sadness and yet euphoria in their memories.

When I was so very little growing up in the apartments just across the Potomac River from Washington, my grandparents were elderly…in their 60s. I am currently 67. I watched my parents journey through their sixties too. My dad – gone at 72. My mom – 84. And here I am on the downside of my sixties.

Remarkable, isn’t it?

What I love most about my early memories hanging with old people were their many and varied stories from their lives. Hanging with old people is an opportunity to learn something about our past. We are the last generation to hear stories about horses and buggies and those first motorcars. They sat on the lawn behind the apartments watching traffic roar by on Route 50 as they told their stories.

I’d look at Civil War era Fort Myer across Arlington Boulevard and wonder of its history. I’d listen to the old folks’ stories about the World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. I couldn’t relate to any of it. I’ve known people who were on the beaches of Normandy and in the Battle of the Bulge. Those who saw action and death couldn’t talk about it. They lost close friends – brothers in arms. It doesn’t get any closer than that. They kept one another alive. They grieved over their Fallen.

My mother was a Washington girl born and raised – sheltered from the Great Depression living in the District where the city was a company town and the masses were employed by the federal government. Everyone had a job. She worked at Agriculture.

As my mother came of age at the cusp of a world war, she watched my Uncle Wayne go off to serve in the Marines in the Pacific. She said he came home a different person. Of course he was… He was a bombardier on B-17s high over the Pacific. He understood fear and lived through the sadness of loss of those he served with. He came home to a different sister too who had grown up.

Washington wasn’t the same place either.

It has always been easy for me to spend time with the elderly. I’ve always loved their wisdom and experience. I’ve always known they’d had it tougher than I ever have.

If I can offer any wisdom – it’s to spend time with old people. Hold their hands. Listen to their stories. Take an interest.

They’ve been there…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s