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The Secrets of the Elderly – Hidden or Revealed

July 1, 2010

Grandma and GrandpaWhile working at the second-hand store I became acquainted with many of the elderly people. These people are stunning when you take the time to speak with them, and enjoy their company. I like visiting the retirement homes sometimes, although it has been a while, since I have. My mother is a nurse working in a retirement home. I have gone to pick her up and marveled at the knowledge that shines through the residents. You can tell when you engage persons in between the ages of 68 and 100 that they are surely packed with the wisdom of living!

One day, mother was assisting a woman, helping her prepare for the day. This woman loved mom’s company and did everything leisurely, to keep mom in the room longer. After some time watching her perform the final task of brushing her dentures mom lost her patience. She firmly told her client, “I am losing my patience!” The little woman laughed and responded in a way that proved she understood people and life. “Oh good Lord, how are you spelling that dear?” She clearly understood how to manage another person and herself!

Grandma and GrandpaMy grandfather while living in a home ignored many of his nurses. They complained that he was despondent and uncooperative. One day while visiting, I watched as he held his head low while they were speaking with him. I looked at the nurse and told her, “He doesn’t want to be called Virgil. His name is Mr. McCray.” She looked at me wide-eyed and addressed him as Mr. McCray and his head came up as his shoulders straightened. At that moment, I understood that elderly people deserve a huge amount of respect! Showing them respect is simple, and we may be unaware of the simplicity.

I once asked my grandmother if she thought that we could plan life or happiness. Her consciousness overwhelmed me with the intelligence she had inside her. She was ninety years old at the time and had exclusively spoken with me on a level of what I call small talk. “Well no,” she said. “Life is for living and happiness cannot be made up.” This is something special she shared with me that will forever remain in my heart. At that moment, I received a portion of my grandmother that I can pass on to my own grandchildren.

Some elderly people may appear withdrawn and even bitter. Even so, if you listen to them and look into their eyes you have a knowing. You know they have lived a life of hardship, loss, and achievement. You understand that they have overcome the self-pity that may have once driven their lives. These people have a peaceful understanding and acceptance. The wisdom that they carry inside shines through occasionally, and I cannot help but wonder. I wonder if they know how much they have to offer to younger people like me (yep I am young). I wonder why they hold back, and if they realize how much they really do have to offer.

Great Grandma and GrandpaIn my mind, a person cannot live 70 years without having wisdom and a soulful insight of life. Many though, act as if they know very little; it is as if they have secrets. Possibly, the reason they hold back is that they comprehend that we must learn on our own. Possibly, they cannot put into words the profound understanding that they reached. All I know is that occasionally they will say something or ask a question, and you get a glimpse of what they know. They understand everything we do and more. The older ages have lived with the power of words, and the associated sensations. I believe that they understand themselves and the Universe on a level that we all will someday.


2 Comments to “The Secrets of the Elderly – Hidden or Revealed”

  1. J. Ann McMillan says:

    Excellent insight into what makes the elderly tick. I’ve worked with the elderly for 20+years and have watched the people who visited my elderly patients in the nursing home. They appeared to believe that the residents were all senile or they wouldn’t be in a nursing home, and had a tendency to talk down to them.

    I have often thought, “If you would just give them a chance to talk and actually listen to what they had to say, you might get a different view of these terrific people.”

    Thanks for writing this piece.

    J. Ann McMillan

  2. Elderly needs to feel that are still being loved and they still can gain respect from other people.