Celebrating Our Elders
The term “senior citizen” is a polite way to address the elderly in America. Although there are different qualifying ages in various social circles, the most common age of “seniority” is the age of retirement, which is now 65 but will soon be advancing to 67. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recognizes a senior citizen as anyone age 50 or older.
As we celebrate our Elders today, take a moment and reflect on the lives they have led and how different their experiences have been from our own and those of our children. For many seniors, the Internet is a new-fangled contraption that has only been around since they’ve exited the workforce. The concept of a microwave oven in every home came along in their mid-30s, and seat belts didn’t become a requirement until their early 40s. When you consider these ideas that we take for granted, think back to a world that was different, without these modern conveniences, and how people lived, laughed, played and loved.
Today is the perfect opportunity to talk with your parents and grandparents about their lives, and the way they grew up. This is an excellent chance to learn about your family history from the people who lived it; enjoying all the exciting details from the richness of their memories. Perhaps an elder in your life served in the military during a time of war; was on the cutting-edge of some new medical breakthrough, or was part of the civil rights movement. Maybe you know an older adult who made the exciting transition from farm life to city life. How did that change their perspective, and yours? What history can your elders recall from their ancestors? Do you have a family tree? This might be the perfect time to start that project.
Take the time to really get to know your elders; share in their memories, walk through time with them as they share with you their old photos, favorite music, books, and films. Ask about their clothing, the hairstyles of the day, and the culture of the time; what did they do for fun, who were the celebrities they followed, what politicians made the greatest impact on their lives.
As we get to know the seniors of our lives, we will become more connected to ourselves, and our future. So take a moment, and share a cup of coffee or tea and a little conversation with the wiser generation. You’ll be glad you did.