How To Treat The Aged & The Elderly?

A few weeks back I was at a socio-cultural event full of people, young and old. From kids to people in their 40s, it was quite a mix of people really. Among all of us though there was an uncle, let’s call him Uncle John. He was probably in his late 60s. For some reason, the very moment I entered the hall I noticed him. As the program gradually got underway everyone started taking part. Suggestions kept pouring in and everyone took turns establishing their point of views. It is then that I observed something; something that, well, ruined the evening for me. Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I think too much from my heart every now and then, I don’t know, but I didn't like what I saw and it all went downhill from there on.

It was Uncle John’s turn to suggest something and to my surprise nobody seemed interested in listening to what he had to say. He was subtly ignored, avoided even. It was as though he was invisible, irrelevant to the crowd. These were people making tall claims about contributing to the society, all apparently educated and they couldn't find it in them to lend a patient ear to Uncle John. Is it really so hard to respect the opinion of an aged and experienced person? Is this how the world see’s old age or old people? If so, don’t you think it is wrong? We are all going to be old one day, it’s inevitable. Then why this? Do we have to outgrow our elders? Is this some kind of fad?

“That's the trouble with you young people. You think because you ain't been here long, you know everything. In my life I already forgot more than you ever know.” ― Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

That night’s events got me thinking. What if one day someone treats my parents that way? I would be furious, wouldn't you? When I see aged individuals, grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts, I think of my parents. One day when they are really old and away from me for some reason, what if someone treats them the way people treated Uncle John that day? What would I feel? What would they feel?

I have always tried to be respectful towards the elderly except maybe towards those who have meddled in my life unnecessarily to make it hard for me. I always make it a point to let them speak. I always lend a patient ear to them; yes whether I agree or not is a different thing altogether. But I let them speak and give them my undivided attention when they do so. It doesn't take away anything from me.

People leave behind their old parents at stations so that they don’t have to bear medical expenses. People send away their parents to old age homes. How can anyone even do this? I don’t think old people need too much from their children and those around. A little bit of respect and a patient ear is all they crave for. You don’t really need to do much to keep them happy.

Give them your full attention.
Listen to what they have to say.

Respond to them when they talk to you.
Look at them when they talk to you.
Ask them how they are feeling, at least once in a while.
Tell them you understand their problems.
Give them a chance to be a part of your lives.
Don’t stop loving them because of their age because remember they won’t.

And do this not because you have to but because you should. I’m not saying you don’t take your decisions or live your life the way you want to. But it doesn't have to entail ignoring and disrespecting the elderly. Just my two cents!

Written for Microblog Mondays #26

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