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In our last article, we talked about ways to help our elderly loved ones restore their voice in society through simple volunteer opportunities. Today, we want to offer some simple ensure that their contributions to our families and communities are not lost after they are gone.
Give seniors a platform in our schools.
A shocking number of children have never been to a good old-fashioned farm, and don’t even know they still exist. Meeting Old MacDonald’s real-live, hard-working counterpart could give them some new ideas on work ethic. And who better to share our world and country history than one who’s lived it? Grandma’s story about the Great Depression was far more memorable than the one in my textbook. Who, after meeting a Nazi-prison camp survivor, has been able to forget it? Could we ever erase 9-11 images from our own minds? Our world has changed so much in the past century, our children need to know the value of their own ease and convenience.
Honor our veterans.
These are the people to whom we owe our freedom. Make every effort to attend and bring veterans to local celebrations where they will be recognized and honored for their service.
Encourage seniors to write letters to our troops.
So many young men and women serving our country and experiencing long absences from home eagerly anticipate mail time. These physical reminders of home and assurances of support go a long way to sustain and encourage them during their service.
Record your family history
Our elderly loved ones are a living record of our family’s history. After my aunt retired, she remained active in her community senior center, and started a financial investments group for senior women. She also had an urge to research and record our family’s history and lineage. Her research led her to travel to Europe to visit cousins and other relatives of whom I was completely unaware. Her report and connections gave us a treasured record of our heritage.
So record Grandma’s stories. Ask for her perspective on world events that occurred during her lifetime. I had read about people moving west in covered wagons, but until I met, Hazel, a warm, 98-year old woman, who had moved with her family from Chicago to St. Paul by wagon, it seemed like a fairy tale. Our most intimate portrait of my own father’s childhood was painted one afternoon when the camera was rolling. So sit down, and start asking questions.
We’ve got to do it. Take the time, unearth these treasures, listen to their wisdom, and allow our elderly citizens to contribute in ways they are able. If we do this, our lives and our country will never be the same. We will work harder, smarter, and more diligently knowing what has been built and given on our behalf.