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R-e-s-p-e-c-t Your Elders

August 15, 2016

 

Not many people know about it, but senior citizens day is actually on August 21st and is in honor of the signing of the Social Security Act of 1935 by president Franklin Roosevelt. Why not honor this day by teaching your kids about the ways in which they can show respect to today’s senior citizens? I am particularly enthusiastic about this holiday because I do not have any grandparents of my own left. 

 

It is particularly important to stay connected with senior loved ones, or seniors in general, for a number of reasons. For example, did you know that 28% of adults over 65 live alone? This percentage jumps to 45% for women over the age of 75. This isolation alone can contribute to depression and other mental health issues. Not to mention that it can take longer for others to detect the warning signs of physical or cognitive impairment. Even just a quick conversation with a stranger can increase their happiness, so why not take this holiday as an opportunity to really lift someone’s spirits? 

 

If you are fortunate enough to still have older family members around, have your family spend the day with them! Make the trip out to grandma and grandpa’s house to catch up. Maybe set aside some books, movies or games to enjoy together. This is a great opportunity to share some of you and your family’s favorite activities with them and make them feel like they are in the loop. Also, starting a family history project is surely a way to get senior citizens talking about something that excites them! If your senior loved ones live far away, have a family phone call or even a Skype session for the more tech-savvy seniors. Make sure to encourage eye contact and physical touch, which raises cortisol levels that reduces stress. 

 

Even if you are like me and are not lucky enough to have your elderly loved ones in your life, there is always volunteering at a local nursing home! Did you know that some homes offer pet therapy? This means that you could bring the family dog along with you as a way to bring joy and comfort to the residents. Make sure to do your research in order to find out which homes offer this option. You can also simply drop by to strike up a conversation. You never know, this could make all the difference in the lives of the people living there. In some unfortunate cases, a lot of senior citizens living in homes rarely have visitors at all. 

 

Happy senior citizens day to all! You never know what can make a big difference in the lives of your loved ones, and show that love to some strangers too! Demonstrate these practices for your children so that they may follow in your footsteps. After all, you too will be a senior citizen one day!

Jenna Cates: Perfect Fit Placement Specialist

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