Every Monday Matters: Have fun with an elderly person
By Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) The fastest growing age group of the population is 85 years and older.
Every 7.5 seconds a Baby Boomer turns 60.
1 out of 5 people - 72 million - will be 65 years or older by 2030.
Nearly 23 percent of people aged 75 and older live in nursing homes.
Due to an increase in divorce rates, a decrease in the number of children, and more family members living farther away from one another, family support for the elderly is less available.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
1. Offer the elderly you see today simple gestures of courtesy and respect - smile and say "hello," let them have the right of way while driving, or give up your seat in a crowded area.
2. Contact a local independent living, assisted living, or continued care facility and ask if they need volunteers. You're likely to find a place to work with seniors closer than you think.
3. Ask the facility if children or pets are allowed.
4. Organize your family or a group of friends to go with you.
5. Be prepared. Volunteering at a senior or elderly care home can involve many types of activities - playing games or cards, reading, doing art and craft projects, singing songs, teaching a class, or just being friendly.
6. Ask the seniors questions about their life: where they grew up, what life was like, what jobs they had, and what their children and grandchildren are up to.
7. Have fun!
Our senior-citizen population is changing - and this group will grow by another 18 million people in the next 25 years. Today, seniors are living longer, are more full of life, have more expendable income, and have achieved higher levels of education. So, if you spend time with them, you might just find that a friendly game of gin rummy or bingo will teach you a thing or two ... about life.
"My neighbor is the cutest old man. Every day he sits on his front porch for hours and waves to whoever walks by. He always has a smile on his face, and I honestly look forward to seeing him," shared Nora Ward of Richmond, Va.
One day, after two years of just walking by and waving back, Nora decided to stop for a few minutes to say hello ... well, maybe for 2 hours.
"Besides finding out that his name is Sam, I learned all about his family and his life. Sam is 93 years old, born in Poland to a large Jewish family."
If our calculations are correct, that puts Sam being born in 1916. 1916 - The world was in the middle of World War I, Woodrow Wilson was serving as the 28th President of the United States, Monet painted his now famous Water Lilies series, and the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field) ... just a little perspective.
"I was blown away by Sam's life story," said Nora. "Sam lost his entire family during the Jewish Holocaust. Every single one of them - his mom, dad, two brothers, three sisters, two uncles, two aunts, two grandmothers, two grandfathers, and all of his cousins. He was the only one to escape."
Sam was able to jump a train to save his life. The train stopped in the former Soviet Union during the middle of winter. He had nothing and lost everything. He had to start over from scratch.
"As Sam shared his story with me for nearly two hours, he made me laugh and cry. It brought me a new perspective to life. I almost felt bad for the things I usually complain about and for those days that I walked by him and didn't return the same warm welcome because I had something stressful going on in my life," said Nora.
Eventually Sam got a job at as tailor where he met his future wife and headed for America. They have now been happily married for 56 years, living in the exact same house with the exact same front porch.
"When I left Sam that day, I told myself that I would make it a point to stop to talk with him once a week ... and I have," said Nora. "I guess it has been kind of a 'Tuesdays with Morrie' sort of thing. I can't begin to tell you how much Sam has brought to my life. I share with him some of my most intimate secrets. He treats me like his granddaughter. I have realized how much I would have missed out on if I never decided to stop that very first time. I just hope I bring him the same joy he brings me."
Nora, we are pretty sure you do.
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© 2009, The Modesto Bee Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services