#147 Talk with an Old Person

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Talk with an Old Person

So, perhaps the first thing we need to do is define ‘old person’. For the sake of this post, we’ll say that ‘old’ is 80+. So many of the conversations I have with individuals in this age bracket end up at some point with an expression that they feel invisible to society-at-large. Seemingly, our culture doesn’t openly value the old-old. If you happen to live in a community where there is a significant retirement population, you may have noticed that there are a lot of active, contributing old people these days.

I have a number of clients through the years that are older than 80…  people who drive, live independently, and feel the pain of being dismissed by their family and community. And yet, they are generally people with a lifetime of amazing experience, accumulated knowledge, and sound perspective. There must be something that you are curious about – even if it’s how they made the transition from big band music to rock & roll – or did they?

If your grandparents are still living, when was the last time you just sat down and asked them questions about their own life? Research tells us that recounting memories in our late life increases overall life satisfaction. It turns out that a ‘life review’ can be very helpful in allowing us to see that there were meaningful and contributory moments. Grab a pen and begin asking questions about your ancestral history – if for no other reason than to know it for yourself.

If your grandparents are not living, consider adopting an elderly person – at least for an hour or two. The conversation you have may be the highlight of that individual’s life. As a volunteer in a nursing home, with Hospice, or in the hospital, you’ll have an opportunity to talk with as many elderly people as you have the breath for. If volunteering isn’t your thing or if you are cramped for time, just make the time to engage with an old person the next time you see them in a line, at a restaurant, or shopping for groceries. Find a way to acknowledge their presence and listen carefully for a reason to validate their existence.

Doing this one little thing will enrich your life more than you can imagine. There is great joy in watching someone’s face light from the understanding that you ‘saw’ them. There is great learning to be done when you take time to listen to accumulated wisdom. And, there is great joy in giving of yourself in the most unassuming moments. All this because you made an effort to …

Talk to an old person.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

2 thoughts on “#147 Talk with an Old Person

  1. Having recently begun working with ” Meals on Wheels” for the elderly, I totally agree with your suggestion. Even though I don’t have a lot of time to spend with each individual ( I deliver to nine people ), I try to have a chat with them all.

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