What you are missing out on when you have the wrong mindset?
In many cultures, old age is revered and elders are sought out for their opinions based on a lifetime of experiences. In our country, wrinkles and grey hair are to be rectified and advertisers want the 18-34 year old market. By the way, these young people have no money and older adults are more likely to be millionaires but oh well.
Not only do we value youth in this country, we dismiss older adults, and especially those over 80 as a burden. Even electing the oldest president ever has not changed our mindset. What we need is an attitude change toward older adults.
People often give me credit for working with the elderly and say they don’t have the patience to work with the elderly. Read: I don’t have the time, they are a burden to my busy life. I never feel that way. I have met such interesting people with incredible life stories. Even if they never worked outside the home, or had an uneventful career, they lived during interesting times. People also ask how I can be in a relationship with someone who will die long before I will? I see it as being so lucky to have known them, that when they do pass away I am grateful for the gift of having been their friend and confidant.
Even though I help people who cannot drive, or who need assistance, I never pity them or treat them like a child. I treat them like a friend. That simple attitude change makes being with the elderly so different. When you think of someone as your contemporary and not someone who needs saving you never feel any burden. In fact, I had a client tell me that when we are together she never feels like a burden. What a compliment.
Don’t think that I don’t get frustrated when someone takes time agonizing over what to buy when they eventually leave the store with exactly what they knew they would buy when they walked in. If you think of the sometimes annoying habits of those you love, you put up with their minor flaws because the entire relationship is more valuable than the small flaws. It is no different because other person has grey hair and wrinkles.
What is your attitude when you are with older adults? Are they your friend or your burden? Do you value them for what they can bring to the relationship or judge them based on what they need from the relationship? How do you want people to view you when you are old?
An attitude adjustment is needed if you want to have a rich, wonderful relationship with the most interesting and experienced generation.