We met a gentleman this week, he was born during the first world war (yes, the 1st!) and fought in the 2nd WW. We owe our freedom to men like him and to the lady who told us how she nursed injured soldiers at Dunkirk.
It’s so easy to see an older person and label them ‘doddering’ or ‘past it’. Think again. They are still the person they always were. They are still soldiers, husbands, wives and parents. It is up to all of us to value them as the people they are. We never assume that we can call any care home resident by their first name – we always ask. We ask if now is a convenient time and introduce ourselves properly. We never treat them as if they are childlike, nor do we call them ‘dear’ or ‘love’ – that’s just lazy.
Yes, they might ask us the same question several times – and we can answer it several times. We look around at their photos and their pictures, we find out what they did for a living – we get to know the person, not the ‘older person’.
One man was giving me a lot of lip and I couldn’t work out what was going on – until I found out he was a butcher and he thought I was one of his customers and it all made sense. One man only likes his belt threaded into the loops in one direction – of course he does – he’s an engineer.
One man paused in the exercise class to land a Spitfire – of course he did – he was a pilot. We waited till he decided it was safe – of course we did – he kept my parents safe in the war – if we can’t wait five minutes who are we to work with these people?
Older people are not a problem to be solved, they are not a burden on society, they are men and women who have played their part in the world for many years, its our job to value them and treat them with respect and kindness.