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Visit Your Elders


Article by Jessica Fitch

Photography by Stock Images

I grew up like most of us do; mostly interested in my own life and the goings-on and drama of it, without paying much attention to the old stories my parents and grandparents loved to tell. I heard everything they said as a life-lesson, and never wanted to sit at their feet to hear about what they went through, or about what they used to like to do, because I was far too busy or uninterested.

I remember the first time I sat and asked my grandparents how they met each other and was shocked when they said "We met at a bar." I, of course, had to hear the whole story. My bold Nana was sitting away from the conversation at her table, so she turned her chair around and started eating the fries of the gentleman (my Papa) behind her. He asked her to dance, and the rest is history. This prompted a slew of questions and led me to start asking about the stories of all the elders I knew, and even working at a senior home for awhile.

I'd encourage every person reading this, no matter the age, to visit your elderly; more than just your loved ones, but any senior home you know of. Here are just a few reasons to get to know and spend time with them:


Our living legends have stories to tell. They'll tell you about Pearl Harbor, about getting married, about moving past racial stigma, about the wars they lived through. They'll tell you what they felt when they first used a computer, or when they saw the world moving beyond them. These perspectives help us form a more rounded view of the world.


So often the elderly have wisdom for us, and while some advice may be dated (like the fashion of your shoes, perhaps) we should take what they say to heart. There are so many stories of women who learned to accept themselves, or men who found their calling in a way they never expected. Without asking, you'll never hear. Without listening, you'll never know.


Not all elderly are in senior homes, but those that are need that attention and companionship. I always suggest to those who go to visit their families that they get to know some other residents as well. Many families live far away from each other and are unable to get visitors as often, or they may not have much family left. Visiting your loved ones makes them happy, makes you happy and is the key to keeping them feeling young.

A few final tips: show up prepared to listen, or prepared to talk. Have a book if they'd rather hear a story, have some photos of your family, have a cup of tea or some cookies. Just your very presence is often enough to make their day and it will surely make yours when you make the time.