Older adults are our most precious resource! Betsy and I would like to take the opportunity during Older American’s Month to recognize the wisdom our elders can offer to enrich the lives of future generations.
Older Americans have seen so much life. Most can remember when there were no automobiles, TV, computers, cellphones, tablets, or space travel. Many lived in homes with no indoor plumbing. Life was more straightforward; the family was closer and more connected, and for most people, life held moments of stillness that we seem to have rediscovered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the opportunity, our oldest citizens can interpret today’s current advances and difficulties through a lens formed by many decades of experience. Still, with technological advancements happening at lightning speed, our society doesn’t always encourage the sharing of lessons learned by our elders.
Family caregivers might be in a valuable position here. They have a unique opportunity to capture stories that will enlighten family histories for generations to come. If your loved one can still remember their earlier years and experiences they had, you can explore those memories together. Ask simple, open-ended questions about experiences your older family members lived through. Their answers can yield a treasure trove of wisdom and insights that can enrich your life as well as your time together. You should have a notebook and jot down notes or keep a video or audio journal of these conversations. Later generations will appreciate your diligence to capture these stories in ways they can be shared.
Betsy had many opportunities to do this with her mother in her last couple of years. The two talked about her mother’s Marine Corps experience, her teaching career, and even college and graduate school memories. They went through old photo albums and letters Sarah had kept for decades. Betsy gained new insights that she has shared with our children. This time together deepened Betsy’s relationship with her mother. Also, it helped her realize the importance of putting away technology for a time to just sit and be together.
Time taken away from daily tasks, schedules, emails, social networks, and television can be reinvested in our older loved ones with excellent yield! For ideas of how to start a conversation, click here. Those hours spent in questions, discussions, and memories hold great rewards and will never be regretted.
Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about valuing our older Americans this month.