Thoughts about Seniors

Apr 15th, 2015 | By | Category: Spring 2015

When I was young and my kids were small I took a class from a teacher who said the following “as you are I have been – as I am you will be”. I suspect that all young people think oh no, not me.

I think of that teacher often when steps loom up or when I can’t do what my mind tells me I should be able to do. We the grey haired set have learned a lot but no one really cares to hear about it. I think of all the things I could have asked but didn’t. I think of all the times I could have listened and but didn’t. I think of all the times I could have just been there but wasn’t. I was too busy.

No senior wants to be patronized. No senior wants a pat on the head. What we seniors want is for people to recognize us like the words from the song “I’m still here”. We have a lot of experience to offer and maybe we could help someone not make our mistakes, although we do know we all must make our own mistakes.

Over Christmas I was speaking to people about seniors because the church was taking care of some this year. One woman told me her daughter works in a very expensive seniors’ home. The seniors there are able to buy whatever they want and yet they are so grateful if someone takes the time to bring in a small gift and spend a little time with them. You would think their children would do it but they seldom do. They also love to see babies. They were mothers and fathers and that smell of babies or those amazing smiles are very special for them.

I have a plan when I take out my tricycle and roll around the park – I intend to say hello to three people on each ride. Young people look surprised if they hear you at all since they are looking down or plugged in. Seniors stop and talk. They tell you stories about when they were ‘real’.

Real? Do you know the lines from the skin horse in ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ when he talked about being real? He explained that when you are real some of your fur has been rubbed off by loving hands and you don’t look as pretty as when you were new. I had an exciting career with many firsts. I raised three wonderful people. I have

six grandkids who love me. My career was great. And yet…I am not real now. But I still have great stuff in my life. I am that skin horse. I am different but I am real.

Maybe that is all seniors want – just to be recognized as real. Recognize the journey that we are all on and that ‘as I am you will be’ and think about what you would ask if you could talk to your old self about what seniors really want.

Better services are wonderful. TTC thinking about escalators that bring you up or elevators that don’t leave you in a space where you still have stairs to climb would be great. A smile would be better. Asking ‘can I help you’, not ‘can I do it for you’ is even better yet.

A young man explained to me that there is a phone now that has a panic button and ‘BIG’ numbers for seniors. I smiled and said what happens if you push that button. He looked quite flustered. You see he will never be me. You have to love these young sales people. I call Rogers often about my computer and I usually get someone who says ‘look at the right-hand corner’ of the back of the video box or on my computer screen. Later they realize I don’t have a clue and they explain what that might look like or what colour it is and we get the job done. And we are both very glad when we do get the job done – we are happy with each other. I don’t nod my head now and look like I know what is going on, when I don’t. The TD bank machine refuses to take in my cheques and I go inside to explain it really isn’t working very well for me.

I am learning every day and I am laughing more. Time is something that maybe I don’t have so much of but the people I think about have counselled me to just use it well and it is enough. I hug more because everyone needs a hug. I recognize in old and young eyes that we all have a story.

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