Take the Opportunity: Listen to the Elderly

Photo of Shem-shem Pablo

By Stuart Young

Take the opportunity today to sit with an elderly person and listen to their story.

All too often in our busy society our elderly are relegated to the
corner of the room, patronized with one more cup of tea and humored
like children.

 My uncle died recently, he was 92 and in the last few weeks of his
 life I was fortunate enough to have the time on a few occasions to
 visit him and my aunt in the home they were residing in for a while.

 Each time I visited I made a point of asking some questions about
 their past and then sat and listened. There were some amazing stories
 that I’d never heard before and it was a privilege to hear them.

 At his funeral one of his friends presented his eulogy and I learned
 that during World War II, when my uncle was in his early twenties, he
 was nearly killed by a bomb that demolished his in-law’s house in
 London. Sadly his in-laws were both killed as was one of his young
brother-in-laws. He managed to get himself and his young wife out of
 the wreckage then went back inside and dug his other 10 year old
 brother-in-law out of the rubble – saving his life. That young man was
 now the 82 year old vicar that was recounting this story at the
 graveside.

 What an incredible story and I had to wait until he died before I
 heard it. Let’s learn about the lives of our elderly from their own
 lips, we will be amazed and they will be thrilled.

 Editor’s Note: Stuart Young writes his thoughts on How To Change Your Life One Day At A Time. He aims to provide a “set of 365 practical little guides which WILL change your life if you commit to implementing as many as possible.” You can check his thoughts here.

 

Comments

  1. Beautiful observation! We ought to hear the stories of our elderly, from their own very own mouths. Thanks for sharing!

  2. peeledonion says:

    Thanks for a great reminder.

  3. this is something I constantly remind my teenage students…listen to your grandparents, because, from experience, I know their stories, their life lessons are words that we miss like nothing else…after ten years of my grandmother’s passing I still wish I could go to her and ask for her advice, her blessing or her stories of times long gone …OH YES LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS

  4. Nephos says:

    Valuable lesson from an awesome story!

    Too often we spend our lives segregated according to age and miss out on the blessing of multi-generational friendships. Who said all my friends have to be my age?

    • AMSDaily says:

      Yes – you are right Nephos. There certainly are stages in our lives when we didn’t care of our elderly. I know I was at one point very busy with life and has missed out a lot from them in pursuing my own interests.

    • stuartart says:

      Totally valid point Nephos. I have friends 20 years older and 20 years younger than me. Once we reach adulthood the boundaries of age should fall away but mostly they don’t. We need to commit to spreading the age range of our closest friends so we connect all generations to each other. Stu :)

  5. Loved this post. I was blessed to have “talkative” grandparents who shared tales from the amazing journey! Thanks for the reminder that there is wonder and wisdom in the stories of our elders!

    • AMSDaily says:

      Talkative grandparents are great – they pass on history and memories! You are welcome Stephanie!

    • Stuartart says:

      Thanks Stephanie, my grandparents weren’t, in fact I had lost 3 of them by the time I was 5 and my last gran became senile whilst I was in my teens. I wish I had spent more time talking with my older uncles and aunts.

  6. antoinette says:

    You are so right, older people are delightful and their wisdom and experiences invaluable. Thank you.

  7. Thank you so much for this beautiful story and for the encouragement to honor our elders, not only when they are gone but while they are still here.

  8. Thanks this story touched my heart. Last year I had to hear stories of my dad the same way from his sister after he was gone.. We need to listen to the elderly they have so many years of stories..
    Rock on

  9. You are spot on. I loved and still miss my grandmother’s voice… just the sound of it made me feel human. I carry with me her stories and, most importantly, her voice of wisdom. Great post!!!

  10. abbi1977 says:

    In healthcare, I work with the elderly daily. One of my favorite things is to ask them for their best advice on life, relationships, children, etc. Hearing their stories and their wisdom is a blessing. :)

    • AMSDaily says:

      That is great Abbi1977! working with them is truly an art and you get the bonus of listening to their stories, as well!

    • stuartart says:

      I admire anyone that works with children or the elderly – it can be so demanding. It sounds like you cut through the demanding nature of your position and see it as an honour to serve these people, learn from them, and be touched in your very soul by them. I salut you. Stu :)

  11. a beautiful and truly inspiring story. We often neglect and forget the wisdom and sacrifices that our elderly gone through for us to have a better life!

    • AMSDaily says:

      Leanova Designs, you are exactly right! Their wisdom and sacrifices are just tremendous that we need to sit down and listen.

    • stuartart says:

      So true, we forget that they are still young people on the inside. Just because our bodies become old and frail, and sometimes our minds too – but our soul never ages, it is forever youthful. Stu :)

  12. Thank you for sharing this article. Learning from the wisdom of our elders is a lost art.

  13. daysee7891 says:

    Very true!!

  14. Very nice blog post! In western countries, we could learn something from those cultures which revere their older citizens.

    • stuartart says:

      Wow, that is so true. Our western society indoctrinates us with searching for our own goals and dreams but misses the point that our elderly have gone before us and can often show us the way. We are missing huge lessons by locking them all away in homes – even their own. Let’s make a point of not only admiring the idea behind this post, but actually take action to ‘do’ something. Would love to hear what any of you do as a result of reading this. Love Stu :)

  15. drawingpins says:

    Lovely post and lovely blog. Thank you for reminding us to spread a little more elderly love! In return we shall receive their much needed wisdom and guidance. Thanks for visiting my blog and Happy Valentines Day to you and to all!

  16. I have often stopped to think about this. Great post, great inspiration!

  17. Auranics says:

    Love this. Yes I often sit with my last living grandparent, my Grandma and we have the most amazing conversations. Many about the family having to fell Pakistan when the divide happenned and relo to India. My Grandma was pregnant at the time and the family had to split not knowing if they would ever see each other again. I love the time spent listening to her. I only wish I had time with those who passed too. I find it hard to understand that my cousins who live with her cannot even bear a hello let alone sit and listen to her. That is sad, But at least she has me! Thanks for sharing (”,)

    • AMSDaily says:

      What matters is that we have some moments to share and treasure with our elderly. Thank you!

    • stuartart says:

      It sounds like you have a powerful connection to your Grandma. Remember, you are the one receiving the wisdom whilst your cousins are too busy with themselves. Your Grandma is receiving your love in return and I’m sure that touches her more than you could ever know. Brilliant. Stu :)

  18. Jamie Elizabeth Danielle Weise says:

    This is beautiful.

  19. living4bliss says:

    I lost my grandmother in 2008. I really miss her stories but I remember all of the wisdom she taught me and many of her sayings. One of my favorite was, “you don’t get old being a fool…”

    Wisdom grows through the ages. Thank you for reminding us of the value of our older relatives.

  20. Lisa says:

    This is so true! We recently lost a matriarch in our community. She was huge on telling stories about her life and times, and she also wrote a journal which she shared with anyone who was interested. She was a blogger before her time!

    http://www.thisblogisforwomen.com

  21. suddenleigh says:

    This is a beautiful sentiment! Thank you for sharing.

  22. stuartart says:

    Thanks for all of these beautiful comments. Much appreciated. Thank you Alpha for allowing me to guest blog here – you are an inspiration. Stu :)

  23. Colleen says:

    I live at home with my grandparents. Because I see them all the time, it is so easy to take them for granted. My grandfather just celebrated his 83rd birthday. Although he is in great health, you never know. There have been plenty of instances in which he has tried to tell a story but I try to make a quick exit. After reading this, I will make an effort to listen to him because I don’t want to regret not having heard his stories and having had conversations with him one day. Thanks for reminding me of that.

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