Last Updated: January 15, 2018
Common grace and manners are to treat our elders with dignity and respect. Sadly, instead of treating our elders with the appreciation and respect they deserve, many are often either too busy or simply dismiss them and their contributions to their community and family.
Why It’s Important to Treat Our Elders With Respect
Seniors have a thing or two to teach us about enduring change and handling life’s adversity. Even if a senior’s hearing or memory isn’t what it was in the past, our elders have great wisdom to impart.
Younger generations must learn the importance of respecting their elders and make time to listen and spend quality with them.
Dr. Cheryl Woodson, a geriatrician and the author of “To Survive Caregiving: A Daughter’s Experience, A Doctor’s Advice” feels very strongly about treating elders with the respect they deserve:
“I hate it when people call seniors ‘cute.’ My 89-year old Aunt Terri does all the seating charts for events and trips for her senior group. She taught five line dancing classes a year until two years ago when she thought her hearing loss made her a less effective teacher, even though her classes disagreed… These people are powerful. They created the comforts younger Americans take for granted. They are not cute like babies or puppies, and I think it’s demeaning to treat them as though they are. We must treat our elders with respect, even if their bodies or minds are beginning to fail them.”
When Ageism Is Rampant
People can become uncomfortable dealing with the emotions of aging and the trials and tribulations of the golden years, which contributes to ageism. Ageism is defined as a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention.
Unfortunately, this sentiment is rampant, but we have to remember that seniors are knowledgeable people who have something to contribute to society in the wisdom they’ve gained from their life histories, even if it’s a story about life or history. It’s more than respect — it’s about really taking the time to listen to our grandparents and parents.
The simple act of paying attention does wonders, even if loved ones suffer from cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. After all, learning history and spending quality time together can benefit everyone and create irreplaceable memories.
Our grandparents and parents raised us to believe in the importance of treating others with courtesy and respect. These past generations have held tight to their dignity, ethics, faith, honesty and integrity; which is exactly why condescending or even inadvertent belittling is not okay — even when the goal is to protect, rather than harm.
Dr. Woodson comments:
“One of my pet peeves is providers calling seniors by their first names. They do this thinking that familiarity signifies bonding and is less intimidating. That may be true for children or for people with dementia who have regressed to an earlier time and remember only their first names. However, for many seniors, it is just disrespectful, especially when the person speaking to them is younger. Many seniors will not comment, but they will withdraw, making further communication ineffective.”
What Caregivers Should Take Note Of
Being a caregiver can be a tough responsibility, as the role can be both emotionally and physically taxing. It will demand devotion and patience since the loss of independence is one of the most difficult transitions for anyone who suddenly requires the intrusion of a caregiver. Being patient in difficult situations can be exhausting, but showing our elders respect is always the best choice.
It’s important to remember to be not only considerate, but also polite to people whose bodies and minds are aging, simply because of the hands of time. Ageism exists, but being kind and showing compassion is at least one step in the right direction in a world that is often devoid of manners.
For more information on Dr. Woodson and her books, visit her blog: “Straight Talk with Dr. Cheryl.” Facebook, or website.
Have you experienced ageism? How do you think society should deal with disrespect toward seniors? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
3rd Prize at the Essay Competition: Caring for The Elderly
3rd Prize at the Essay Competition organised by the Department of English and Communication
Khiugiangliu Zofia Gonmei, Allied Health Sciences
Caring for the elderly: a hindrance or an aid to self-development
To care for someone who once cared for us is the highest honour. Getting old is an inevitable process. It is inherent to human being. And with old age comes maturity, wisdom and respectability. Elderly people are precious. They are the revered members of our family, wise sages and keeper of traditions. They are a goldmine storehouse of knowledge.
Personally, I feel caring for the elderly aids to self-development. Old-age is a time when they need help in things they effortlessly do by themselves before. It is a time when they need attention and affection.
Elderly are the truest form of wisdom. They have lived for a long time- from generations to generations. They teach us respect, perseverance, wisdom. By being with them and caring for them establish relationships. Connecting with them we learn to grow. We learn patience and tolerance by caring for them. As they have lived long they know life very well. They have been through the ups and downs of life. We learn how to face problems- we learn everyone have to face problems and anyone can overcome it. Elderly people love to share. They deal with things very deeply. They teach us to look at things in a deeper level rather than waddling in the shallow pool. Elderly helps us to see people as well as ourselves differently- in a good way. There teach us that that there is so much more to things as well as people than they appear. We learn our identity and discover who we really are by being with them. We become more self aware and wiser through all the things they teach and do. Through their actions we imbibe better the seeds they sown Through their calmness and serenity from all the experiences and lessons they have learnt and gathered through the years they provide us a better platform for us follow and imitate as actions speak louder than words. Caring for them benefits us in many ways and prepares us to face life and overcome it. All the little things that we learnt through caring strengthens us and help us to live life in fulfilment and satisfaction; storing all the things that we learnt and doing it.
Elderly teach us the value of family, relationships and life. As humans are industrious being- we don’t like to feel stagnant. We love progress. And through progress we win. Caring for the elders help us to grow in many ways which altogether lead to who we are. We owe to them. We will not be here if it were not for them.
It is everyone’s responsibility to grow into a respectable elder- someone whom we can go to for help and counsel. And as no man is an island and he is constantly shaped and influenced by the experience of life he go through , it is very important that he get the right experience and counsel by being with the diamonds, and storehouse of wisdom and goodness- the elderly!