Youth and the elderly – two groups you wouldn’t generally put together. These generations are vastly different, yet they have so much to share and learn from each other. I recently watched both generations interact in my own family and learned some valuable lessons.
When young people today have the opportunity to share in the world of those who are elderly, whether it is a grandparent in their own home, an aunt in an assisted living facility, or a neighbor in a nursing home, it provides a unique opportunity for growth. First, it is a chance for youth to see that not everyone is able to be active when they are older. It shows them that some elderly people need special care to do everyday tasks, and that patience, understanding and empathy are important values.
Second, youth may be anxious around those who are elderly, especially in a facility setting, but they quickly relax when they see how their presence, words and actions make a difference. Youth can quickly lift spirits and bring back good memories by simply reading a book out loud and telling stories. Little do youth know that when they leave, the air in the room is still as festive as if they were there...quieter, but still festive!
If you have an elderly family member or neighbor and young people in your life, encourage them spend time together. The elderly are more than anxious to share their knowledge and experiences and hope for the future to playful and carefree youngsters. It is the responsibility of our youth to listen, understand and use what they hear, and from my experience they do – even if they seem distracted or disengaged at first. The lessons youth learn from their elders forms their moral base and valuable decision-making skills.
The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to bring the generations in your life together. The time spent is an invaluable and rewarding gift. I wish you and your family very happy holidays and a fantastic new year!