Each year becomes more of a struggle. We trudge through life, with goals, hopes and dreams. We reach the epitome of living and wonder who we are, why we’re here and where we’re going. Within the blink of an eye, a life rushes through time for what? We live to die. We die to live.
People are living longer, healthier lives today. Yet somehow they’re perceived as useless. They face each day with a sense of optimism. Their bodies have lost their youthful zip. Life remains, but much has been sapped from it. The work they used to accomplish seems like a forgotten dream. They’ve had their ups and downs – put their faith in God’s grace – get by on a meager income, but it’s been that way for most of their lives together. They scrimp and make do with what they have.
Who would’ve thought that so many years ago, this vibrant couple would come to this? They’re both full of thoughts and brilliant ideas, but are unable to carry them out. They’re filled with humor, creativity, joy, wisdom, life skills, stories and so much more.
We often think of how sad it is to lose our memory or our ability to think. When dementia or Alzheimer’s sets in, it’s like a one way ticket to a nursing home or memory care facility. What of those who are mentally sharp yet have lost their vigor and strength? Where do they fit in?
Some think of the elderly as a drain on society. Some would pack them up and send them to another planet where they’d eventually give up and die. We forget that they’ve accumulated a lifetime of knowledge through experience and are willing to share it.
They’ve seen many changes. They’ve seen wars, alterations in government, the demise of the family as we knew it, the insecurity of the young, a rise in mental illness; the inability of people to care about each other, turning their concerns inward. They’ve seen an increase in criminal activity, disrespect for law and order and protests spinning out of control. They’ve noticed a decrease in church attendance in the last twenty years and a turn to “feel good about yourself” religions.
They’ve seen technology evolve from crank telephones, into hand held devices, small enough to fit in your pocket, still containing the information of the universe. They’ve experienced old style, console radios, which spewed stories that stirred the imagination – portable radios they could take to the beach – huge boom boxes – transistor radios, 8 track tapes, VCR’s, CDs and voice operated information centers called Alexia. They watched their first TV on a huge piece of furniture which housed a tiny black and white screen. Then came color – bigger and better screens – computer controlled and flat screens that fill the room.
When we think of what history has dealt us in the last 70-80 years, it’s astonishing. Think of the wealth of information these elder citizens possess. They hold a bounty of life experience to support it. Maybe if we turn to the elderly and their wisdom, we’ll see a change for the better. They have so much to offer the world when given the opportunity to do so. Give them that chance.