As a culture, the United States has shifted more towards individualism instead of collectivism. An article by AFS describes the differences between the two, but in a nutshell, individualism has seen more of the spotlight during the last few decades. Collectivism puts more emphasis on family and the larger group. Elders were once highly valued as members of the community. Unfortunately, that same widespread value has diminished, and elders are often seen as a chore. However, seniors should be treated with the respect they deserve, and here are a few things you can do to show them.
Ask for Life Advice
Seniors have years of experience and most love to offer their advice and opinions. Some of their advice comes from hardships they’ve experienced. Learning from their knowledge can help you prevent those things from happening to you. Ask for advice about relationships with family, friends, and significant others. You may have seen stereotypical old couples, one couple being cranky, and the other being together for 60 years as high school sweethearts. Both couples have a lot to offer since they know what worked and didn’t work for them.
Career advice is another area you should talk to them about. In an article by Zippia, they break down statistics on jobs and show that the average American has twelve jobs during his/her lifetime. Talking with a senior about their career journey will help you get a better perspective on your career and give you ideas about where you would like to be in the future. Depending on where you’re at in your career, having this conversation might put you in a better position than if you hadn’t talked to them at all.
Many elders struggle financially because they didn’t prepare years in advance. It’s sad to see, but some have quite a hard time during retirement years or the end of their life when they need the most support. One piece of advice that many elders have for upcoming generations is to start investing at a young age. Starting young will allow you to take advantage of compounding interest over decades. Another important investment you’ll make if you haven’t already is buying your own home. Just like the average American changes quite a few jobs during their lifetime, many also end up moving. The seniors in your life would be more than happy to help you answer questions like “how much house can I afford?” Having proper knowledge about home-related finances can help you save money on arguably one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make. Chances are they would be able to recommend a realtor for you if you’re looking.
Be There For Them
Another reason to spend more time with the seniors in your life is to simply be there for them. Many seniors struggle with loneliness, especially widows and widowers. Spending time with a family member or neighbor that doesn’t get many visitors will help boost their mood and give them something extra to look forward to. This is especially true for elders with mobility issues since they cannot travel much. If they’re worried about sicknesses such as COVID-19, help them learn how to use Zoom, so they can speak with you or their family members.
Discover Their Needs
While seniors have a lot to offer younger generations, we also have much to offer to them. If you notice a senior in your life is struggling, whether it’s a parent, friend, or someone in your community, be open to being there for them. Discover their needs and find a way to support them. If they’re old enough where their physical or mental health gets to the point where you think they require daily care, you might want to consider helping them find an assisted living or retirement community. Our seniors play just as critical of a role today as they did decades ago. Spending as much time as possible learning from their experiences and knowledge will not only benefit us but will also let them know we respect and appreciate them.