5 Reasons to Spend Time with a Senior
By: Ange King
That smell? The one you think will never happen to you? It will.
Time to face reality, people.
But why embrace the truth sooner rather than later?
1. Because we have time
Ack! But yes, we do. Everybody has time. It’s a question of priorities.
What are our priorities? If we are happily thinking that the older person in our life isn’t valuable enough for us to make time for, then what does that say about our value for people in general? Scary, right? Only the good-looking, young ones for me, thanks! Let’s throw in money and fame as well! Orphans, bah!
Old people are precious. They might not look it, smell it, or sound it, but they are deeply valuable and adored by a Certain Someone, whose opinion about things we should all appreciate. Do we appreciate it?
2. Because they need you to
Being old isn’t easy.
There are actually some rather terrifying statistics on the elderly. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, an estimated 10-15% of our over-65 year-olds suffer from depression or anxiety.
And according to Beyond Blue, the rates of depression among those living in residential aged care are much higher, around 35%. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that men over the age of 85 have the highest suicide rate in Australia.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons for this: the elderly experience health problems that might involve disability or pain, loneliness and isolation due to a dwindling social circle or decreased mobility, a reduced sense of purpose or loss of identity due to retirement or physical limitations, and the grief of recent bereavements.
Sadness over these losses and changes are normal, but depression is not, and it seems that many older Australians are living with that constant state of emptiness and despair that marks depression.
But there is hope for them.
One of the key ways to reduce the risk factors of depression, especially for the elderly, is to keep engaged—socially, mentally, and physically. Get out into the world and spend time with people.
Beyond Blue says, “…there are lots of things you can do to expand and strengthen your social networks. If you want to be closer to others in your existing relationships, you can work on improving your communication and emotional connectedness; for example learning new skills to help you talk about the important things in life with loved ones, or even just making more time for regular conversations.”
In other words, spend time with people, and get talking.
That’s where we come in.
3. Because we have the answer. And so do they
That’s the thing about spending time with people who are different to us. Letting them tell their stories, and telling ours. The experience changes both parties.
Say, we take our elderly friend to an uplifting movie, and it moves us to ask questions. And then the stories and jokes and opinions start rolling, on both sides.
I don’t know about you, but thinking about seniors with depression makes me think of the lingering tone of sadness in my grandfather’s voice on the phone, or the complaint my grandmother has about different things to do with her health—that negatively driven dialogue that seems to narrow down and get worse as we age.
But we can bring different ideas and opinions with us when we spend time with our favourite ‘oldies’—we can change the atmosphere, so to speak. And in return, they can change us, and remind us that we too, will one day deal with mortality like this. Wasn’t it Solomon who said that the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning?
4. Because of the value-factor
It’s not just because they have value—value as people, that is—value as joke-telling, generous, faithful, intelligent men and women. It’s because they lived and had their prime in a time when society’s values were different. Society’s values shift and change—sure, some of our societal values are much better now, I think, or changing for the better, and some are not. Some are worse. We could do with hearing from the hearts of people who have different values to ours.
Again, because it changes us. It widens our perspective, gets us thinking out of the box. And that is always a good thing.
5. Because it’s easy
Tea, talking. It doesn’t take much.
Did you know that Event Cinemas run Seniors Morning Tea Screenings? And there are heaps of films coming to the cinema both this year and next which will be perfect to encourage and uplift your favourite ‘oldie.’
One of the great films coming up soon is called New Life. “New Life will help you feel and see much of what real love facing tragedy can be. The film is fun, family-friendly, and deserves a wide audience.” (A review from seniorslifestyle.org)
Now this is the kind of thing we can get talking about afterwards, right?
If you want to find out more about New Life and the upcoming films that will brighten and bless our seniors, register here.
Article supplied with thanks to Movies Change People.