Respect for the aging process
Right now, there is a big push on trying to hold back the aging process. In a way we are trying to deny it as if we could control it. The truth of it is, we can’t. Yes, we can delay, in some cases, the effect of aging, but ultimately it is there and in the end the effects will claim us, catch up with us, in our final days.
Now days, we do not respect or honor the wishes of the elderly. We think we know better or what is best for them. It is sad that we have arrived at this point in our personal and intellectual development. At one time, we let people age with tolerance and dignity. At a certain point, we let them do what they wanted to do within reason and the perimeter of that reason was based on love, understanding and respect.
Sometimes an elderly person just wants to sit or lay in bed for a few more minutes or hours, sometimes they want to eat foods that are not labeled “healthy” and that choice should be theirs if possible. Yes, some of their choices could be dangerous for them but is it our job as the younger ones to eliminate all possible dangers? I don’t think so. There must be a happy or tolerable middle ground. There is truth in seeking balance. But one person’s definition of balance is not the same for the person next to them. Balance is achieved by love, a love for the other person, a love that is both inside and outside yourself.
One of the most important things you can do for an elderly person is the gift of touch. I know there are some individuals that have never been a “toucher” but there are the exceptions of the rule. I meet a lot of people in a lot of different situations. I have seen the differences in a person with only a loving touch on their hand or a hug given freely. Something inside of them says, “Someone cares that I exist, a recognition that I am here and someone cares that I am…here.” This alone can make someone’s day a very positive one.
As one gets older, believe it or not, these factors become even more important. When someone retires they feel they have lost their identity, their place and position in life. A loving touch can actually help change all that. The touch means, I know you are here. A loving touch means I know you are here and I am glad you are.
This can make a big difference in the aging process. As most people age, they lose things such as mobility and the ability to think and act quickly and they feel the loss because they remember when they were once young, quick and strong. A loving touch can be instrumental in canceling out the negative feelings they already feel and have.
So little can mean so much. It’s hard to believe that we don’t do it all the time and everywhere we go and to all that we meet.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. You can send comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (740) 852-4906.