How Elders Inspire, Teach & Enrich Our Lives

Every other Wednesday there is a Twitter chat around caregiving. Each time a different topic is discussed and those in the caregiving community – both family caregivers and caregiving professionals – weigh in. Here are highlights from the Aug. 10 chat that focused on elders:

Q1: We’re talking about elders we love today. Please tweet a few of your faves, be it family members, friends or famous ones.

@GlennerCenters: My 97-year-old grandmother is my inspiration. She is in denial that she’s old and I think it helps keep her young.

@KathyKastner: Greetings all! My 91 fil: funny, mischevious, my kids adore him.

@CarisAlz: Q1 My former neighbor- a retired 4 star general. Amazing storyteller, chain-smoker, class-act gentleman.

@caregiving: My parents are 80 and 77 and on their way out of town to meet friends for a mini-vacation. They live life with zest. !! :)

@arthurandbernie: Arthur & Bernie, of course! But also my former coworker Karen and a next door neighbor growing up, Estelle

@RachelleNorman:  The man who tunes our piano. He’s been doing it for 60+ years and is so kind. Hubby and I both take time off when he comes

@PlayMakerCRM: My grandmother gets up and goes to her part-time job everyday…part of the generation with amazing work ethic.

@JordanEM: 97 – Gma in lay insisted on fixing dinner for us during recent vacation. Fixes her daughter dinner many nights

@CPI_Training:  My grandmother, who has since passed, was a pool-playing shark, rode motorcycles, traveled all over–fabulous.

@aarpatti: Grandpa taught me how to throw/catch softball @ age 6. I was hooked & b/c a grt player- awesome catcher.

@RachelleNorman:  My grandmother, a farmer’s wife, who fits a lot of what you might imagine a farmer’s wife to be, & who has surprises, too.

@KathyKastner:  My mom started tap dancing at 70, my dad, a new business. Great models to follow

@SupportForHome: My own aging, independent, stubborn, declining, frustrating, loving parents, now gone, who taught me what senior care means.

 Q2: Name some elder role models in today’s world (actors, leaders, etc.) or in your own circles. What makes them stand out? 

@GlennerCenters: Betty White – she’s amazing.

@EllenMAbbey: In many of the examples given, vitality makes us admire an elder.

@SeniorCounselor:  The thing that makes senior role models stand out to me is how willing they are to share their story.

@aarpatti: Nelson Mandela!!!!

@Seniors4Living: Nelson Mandela is a great one too. Love the group he’s heading up – aptly named “The Elders.”

@arthurandbernie: I admire the elders in my life not because they are elders, but bc they are special people, age out of the picture.

@50Plus: We see so many inspiring stories! One thing we admire is that people never stop wanting to make a difference.

Q3:  Tell us more about a special memory, lesson learned, or word of wisdom one of these elders shared with you.

@caregiving: I learned the power of forgiveness and that we’re never too old to begin anew.

@ElderCareChat: My grandmother’s legacy lives in her eyes … full of love even when clarity isn’t as sharp.

@SeniorCounselor: My grandfather used to say “never get old.” As a kid, we used to fight back — “but g-pa, we can’t help it!”

@seniorsguides: Give more than you receive, respect more than you’re respected, and love more than you’re loved.

@jocelyn528: You are never too old to learn something new

@GlennerCenters: The best exercise for the heart is to bend down and help someone else up.

@PlayMakerCRM: The most important lesson I have learned is perseverance in the face of adversity. We are all to quick to give up these days.

@SeniorCounselor: Enjoy the small things – value the important things. Seems simple but so crucial to learn

@JordanEM: Sense of humor & stubbornness helpful with aging. Keep learning, experiencing, enjoying, loving

@jocelyn528: Aging is rough, but it’s better than the alternative

@CaringPeopleInc: Assisting a frail, old, gentleman. He reminded us he was a former FBI director. Who he is now isn’t who he always was.

@CareCommunities: Grandpa taught me to use my imagination. He always had a wild story for me – found out later that he made them all up! :)

@arthurandbernie: Dance on the kitchen floor & dance anywhere you want! Dibi and I have been doing dance parties in her room at the home.

@50Plus: Focus on the good times — happiness is measured in years too.

@CareGiverGuy: My Mom who had dementia, woke me up while I was asleep, she asked me Are you OK? No, but I knew that I needed to get better

@KathyKastner:  I dance and sing in my kitchen (yes following in mom’s footsteps) My kids react just like I did back then “Oh, moooother!)

@CareCommunities: Grandpa: “Be quiet while biking through the forest … Wild boars will come out and get you otherwise!”

 Q4: Unfortunately, our culture/society does not always value elders as it should. How can we change that? 

@RightathomeUS: More emphasis on elder advocacy that would include community and online forums to develop suggested best practices.

@GlennerCenters: It helps if we tell their stories thru social media so people see they are still valuable and contribute so much.

@JordanEM: Raise awareness Encourage news coverage of positives. Blog about it, tweet about it.

@seniorsguides: Be intentional in showing, demonstrating value to them. We pass them daily-but stop, take a moment to have dialogue.

@SeniorCounselor: Use seniors in media as role models + reflect them accurately with life and not with overdone plastic surgery

@50Plus: We can listen more and see others’ point of view. Let everyone have a say in their community.

@NatriceR: Saw a lady on the street a wk ago, turned out to be 92 yr old with life lessons for me! Enjoyed the chat

@jocelyn528: Today’s “younger” elders will help. They are not your parents’ grandparents.

@arisAlz: Affirm the humanity of elders in ur own conversation and actions. They are not inconveniences, they are beautiful souls.

@seniorsguides: Raise our voices on their behalf as their voices weaken.

@SeniorCounselor: We don’t appreciate elders bc we haven’t stopped to smell the roses. We’re caught up in our day to day

@caregiving: It can start with us–we make we show gratitude for what they’ve done, do for us. We live the change.

@Seniors4Living: Intergenerational initiatives, story-telling, awareness, advocacy, positive media representation – good stuff! What else?

@ElinSilveous: Focus on gains, knowledge & abilities, not the losses

@AllThingsAging: Intergenerational programming. Family co-habitation. Policy change that doesn’t define “old” as a particular number.

Q5: What are you doing/what organizations are working towards bridging the generation gaps?

@PlayMakerCRM: NPR’s StoryCorps can often be a good place to hear an elder and one of their family members sharing memories and insight.

@caregiving: I think Tom Brokaw has done a great job featuring stories from the Greatest Generation.

@caregiving: I also think some rock stars (Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger) show how us to age and still rock out. :)

@NatriceR: Dont forget Steven Tyler!!!

@rightathomeUS: We have church groups in our elders where elders meet after church & sometimes the church sponsors bowling and golf events.

@GlennerCenters: We have a program that brings young adults to visit isolated seniors. It’s wildly popular here in San Diego.

@SeniorCounselor: There’s a shift toward keeping seniors integrated in society (like the Aging in Place model) but more to do!

@seniorsguides: Don’t wait for others to implement or do these things. We have to be intentional in our own involvement.

@jocelyn528: Seniors in TV ads from groups like @AARP are always vibrant and healthy looking. I think this helps portray seniors well.

@ElinSilveous: Walking our collective talk — whenever, wherever I can.

@jocelyn528:Best way to close age gap–let single older men tell young guys about their multiple girlfriends!

Q6: What’s the most surprising thing you ever learned about/from an elder?

@CaringPeopleInc: That fortunes can be made and lost a dozen times, so not to focus on growing the biz but rather on living life.

@GlennerCenters: Eat well and you’ll live well. Also, let the little things go before they eat you up.

@akroundtree: Learning, accomplishing doesn’t end. It continues long into your life.

@SeniorCounselor: There’s always a chance to change and these golden years can be the best time to do it

@KathyKastner: My FIL said something I realllly didn’t want to hear: “I don’t need Viagra’ ;(

@RachelleNorman: I’ve learned some interesting (and rather dirty) slang terms ;-)

@ElinSilveous: That lady elders in their ’80′s we’re getting tattoos in the 1970s! Or was that just my progressive Mother?

@Seniorsguides: Nvr forget the 100+ y/o man on Johnny Carson- said the secret 2 his long life was drinking shot of Worcestershire sauce.

Editor’s note: The next #ElderCareChat will be on Aug. 24 @ 1 pm ET. And be sure to visit out Caregivers Resource Center to find information for all stages of caring for your loved one.