Perhaps you’re like me and always had an adopted grandparent living in your neighborhood. With all my grandparents two thousand miles away, I was lonely for older folks as a child. Fortunately for me, there were always a few around who took the time to talk to me and listen to me and make me feel special. They’ll probably never know how much they enriched my life by just spending a little time with me.
We’re such a mobile society. Not many people stay living close by their relatives. It can leave older folks hungry for company and children without a connection to past generations. It needn’t be. It doesn’t take blood to make a grandparent. It only takes a little time and love.
Time to listen . . . Time to care
Parents nowadays are very busy people. Older people have the time it takes to really make a difference in a young person’s life. I love the stories about how some college students are choosing to live with older people. It’s a win-win situation for both the senior and the students. The student gets to spend time with a wise elder and a place to live while going to school. The elder gets a little help around the house and someone who’s there to pick up the slack.
For young children, the chance to spend time with an elder is golden. Older people have a way of really listening and completely enjoy being around the young. We all know how it feels to know we’re being heard. We can see it in a person’s eyes. We can feel it when they actually wait for us to talk.
Day Cares for the Young and Old
Many assisted livings and senior day care facilities are pairing up with preschools and children’s day care centers. It’s just amazing to watch the elders and youngsters having fun together. The combination could not be sweeter.
When my kids were young we delivered meals-on-wheels. The older people were polite to me, but they’d much rather talk to my nine-year-old son. He was very quick to oblige them. He’s always been a talker and the kind who looks in people’s eyes when they talk back to him. The seniors were always glad to see him coming and Travis enjoyed every minute of it.
History and Sharing
Each generation has so much to give, but especially our oldest citizens. Their lives have been filled with experience, both good and bad. They’ve endured and thrived and can offer young people the lessons of endurance. They are first time witnesses to so much history. Imagine if schools encouraged their students to ask an older person about the history they are being taught?
Young people still have a curiosity about life and a zest for living. What they can give is hope to those who perhaps have lost their interest in the future. My parents just love a visit from the great-grandkids. They’ll talk about them for days afterward and laugh about what they’ve done or said.
It’s time for us to reach out to that someone who might need us, or that someone we might need in return. In nearly every neighborhood in the country, there’s an older person who could make your life richer and one who might need a friend who’ll take time for them.
For those of you who work with the elderly, encourage your employer to bring the children in and let the fun begin. Some senior communities “adopt” a preschool or have the boys’ scouts and girl scouts come on a regular basis. It’s time we really honored our elders and value what they have to give.