Welcome back, readers. 2016 is here, bringing with it fresh opportunities to learn and grow as professionals in the aging field. Before moving forward, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few personal truths that I have discovered in working with this unique population.
- Age really is just a number. I have worked with people in their 80s who lived like they were in their 40s and vice versa. It’s a strange phenomenon; genes seem to have something to do with it, along with lifestyle and diet. However, it’s attitude that matters in one’s happiness, health, overall well-being and a person’s perception of it.
- Grandparents do not appreciate unasked for advice on Medicare, nursing facilities, or ways to save on medications. While they might be in the right age range, grandparents do not appreciate being treated like clients. This was a valuable lesson learned very early on in my career, the same applies to parents as they age into the older adult range.
- Manners matter. Manners matter in every interaction, with every person but most especially with older adults. Show respect by using proper titles, please, and thank you.
What are other truths about working with older adults? People are people. They will surprise and delight, overwhelm and disappoint the same as any other group. Anyone is capable of anything for good and evil, an absolute fact that often gets forgotten with this group.
Don’t ever count someone out just because they move a little more slowly. I have come to find that this slight delay can be used to an older adult’s advantage as it gives more time to better strategize their next move.
With age comes experience and wisdom, and many times, the willingness to teach something about it to a younger person. If you’re lucky, you might just be the recipient of some piece of advice to save time and prevent the struggle in trying to reinvent the wheel. Trust me, it’s been done and there’s no reason to do it again. Just listen to the voices of our elders, take the time to really listen, and see if its possible not to learn something new.
Best wishes for the New Year. Continue to check in for updates on resources, recommendations, and general updates for professionals and caregivers in the field of aging.