The actions we take to support and to care for our aging loved ones do not need to wait until they become seniors. In close-knit families that regularly gather and who celebrate together birthdays, holidays and other significant events, their elders’ presence is likely expected. Great care is taken to include and to accommodate those whose step may have grown a little unsteady but who still maintain the respect and affection of their younger relatives.
My family is one such family. The most senior relative has always been given due respect and recognition. Our sense of duty has motivated us to be helpful and considerate while remembering that the underlying love for one another is what makes us a family.
It is this sense of belonging to one another and this connection that I believe have made it second-nature to look out for and to look after each other. For as long as I can remember, we have visited relatives who lived far away or who could not travel as a result of poor health. We set aside a special chair if that was where a particular family member was most comfortable. We made sure favorite treats were offered, or time was spent listening to stories or learning a craft from our elders whenever we gathered. We invested a bit of ourselves in the life of our loved ones and took in what they had to offer. We all gained from the exchange.
As time takes away abilities, our logical response continues to be to accommodate, to offer help, to be considerate and to show unconditional love. We may need to slow down our pace a little or perhaps shorten the length of our outings, but the nurturing and support had already been in practice long before they were needed.
Much can be done by families to support their seniors. But why wait?
We can support family members and friends at any age. When they do become seniors, what we do then will be a continuation of what we have already been doing: letting them know they are loved and respected.
Here are some things we can do with our seniors, near and far:
Lynn Greenblatt is a family caregiver and the founder of CaregivingCafe.com – an online directory of links to caregiving information, resources & support that can help caregivers to more efficiently & effectively manage their tasks. She also encourages family caregivers to take good care of themselve