One thing for certain in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program is that we get to be around Seniors….a lot! That is one of the things that I love most about what we do. In the early months of the program we were able to deliver cards to residents individually and that resulted in us being able to see seniors in a variety of living situations and having many interactions with people. One thing we learned early on was that we should never take a negative interaction personally and that dealing with seniors requires a different level of patience, compassion and understanding than what is required in our everyday lives.
As I move into my mid-50’s I am starting to feel changes in my body that aren’t always positive. Getting up and down isn’t as easy as it used to be. Getting up from sitting on the floor and sorting cards is more difficult than tasks in the past. Little aches and pains here and there are popping up unexpectedly that cause you to face the reality that things just aren’t the same. Now imagine another 20 – 30 years in the future and having to deal with even more of that, sometimes without relief for days on end and you begin to realize that seniors are going through experiences that are only yet to come for us.
Waking up every morning with ailments that last throughout the day or dealing with the fact that age is getting the best of you when you still want to be young, is a much different mindset that what we have in our younger years. There are seniors that take it all in stride and have the most positive outlook that you want to be just like them. There are others that aren’t dealing with the aging process so well and have a much more difficult time coping. If you compound the aging issues with the fact that many who enter senior communities never again see the outside of the four walls that they live in, you can start to see why we have to have a little more patience in dealing with them.
When we encounter a senior, we have no idea of what they are going through or their history. We don’t know if they still have family involved or if they have been left alone. We aren’t aware that they may be dealing with a debilitating disease or pain from an illness that is affecting their mood. That is why we treat each and every senior that we come in contact with as we would our own parent or grandparent. It is why we show them a sense of respect and compassion that they have earned the right to have.
While we have a compassion for seniors, we also have a compassion for caregivers who are with seniors day in out. They have to deal with a multitude of different personalities that make each day different and challenging, but in the end rewarding for what they do. Out hats go off to them.
So, the next time you encounter a senior and things aren’t going quite as smoothly as you would like, take a deep breath and attempt to put yourself in their shoes. God willing, one day we will all be seniors ourselves and then we will truly understand why patience is a virtue.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
P.S. Thanks for Renee for giving me the idea for today’s post.