Seniors Should Be Seen AND HEARD!

Do you ever gaze at the faces of seniors and imagine what they looked like in their prime? Or look at younger faces and picture them old? I do – a lot. Maybe it’s because of my nursing background, I don’t know.

woodstock.dancing_picI’ve looked after a number of elderly patients in my day, and their families would often bring in photos from the past to me and mimcomfort them. It’s one thing to see a frail and vulnerable older woman all snuggled up in a hospital bed with a crocheted afghan over her. It’s quite another to see pictures of what she looked like in her late 20s dancing at Woodstock or holding her child in her arms. 

The elderly had lives before we began discounting them; some of which were a lot more interesting than ours. They laughed, cried and agonized over big life decisions. They actually interacted and explored without technology, and they can teach us one hell of a lot about getting from point A to point B (and I’m not just referring to road trips without a GPS). 

I can honestly say that my biggest pet peeve is our screwed up cultural attitude toward old people. Not only do we tend to pass them over for the most part; we actually talk to them like they’re children. I hear it all the time: in grocery stores, shopping malls, and especially in healthcare. It irks me to no end. And trust me, it irks them too.

Do yourself a favor: next time you’re in a room full of people, take a good look around. seniors still in loveI’m in an airport right now, which is perfect for this exercise. I’m seeing high powered business people, lovers, backpackers, musicians, and families. Would you walk up to any one of them right now and converse in baby talk? I highly doubt it. Now ask yourself why it would be a good idea to do so when those same people have their hair turn white and their shoulders droop.

We talk a lot about prejudice in our society, but not enough about how that applies to our seniors. Don’t stereotype or condescend. That will be you one day, if you’re blessed enough to actually age. 

Converse with seniors like you would a peer. They’re real people behind those weathered faces. Real people with souls and personalities, dreams and desires, and rich histories that deserve our respect. I’ll always give them mine. Join me.

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3 thoughts on “Seniors Should Be Seen AND HEARD!

  1. Great Blog. I do that all the time too imagine people what they were like younger and later Like the picture too

  2. Just came back from my 50th High School Reunion. Now THAT was a reality check. Some people have aged gracefully and are still recognizable, although we all wore a pin with our high school yearbook picture so that if there was any doubt of who the bald guy was, or identifying the matronly woman, we could figure it out quickly.

    As a group of the first Boomers, those who showed up are vital, still excited about life and willing to talk about their future and not just their pasts. All totaled, about 25% of the class was there. What happened to the other 75% I know some have passed on, while others just are plainly not interested. The rest are those who are not able or not happy to share about their lives.

    I’m thrilled to be a part of the 25% and have people still recognize me and cross the room to say “hello”. Reflecting on the evening, I realized that here was a room full of lively people with much to say and lots to live for, not a bunch of seniors to be patronized or ignored.

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