Growing Up Optional

You know it is true. Let’s MAD.

All of us at one point begin to feel the effects of aging. We are headed for a huge group. Currently, the fastest growing age group is:

85 years old and older

Can we see a show of hands for the Baby Boomers?

Every 7.5 seconds

A Baby Boomer turns 60 years old.

1 in 5 

By 2030, there will be over 72 million people 65 or older: 20% of the population.


Nearly a quarter of people 75 years old and older live in nursing homes (full care, live-in facilities).


Some of the societal phenomena which have changed the aging landscape are: divorce, mobility and fewer children. With the rise of divorce and the change in family dynamics, especially the two-income household, there are fewer children born than in earlier generations. Some of the elderly have already buried their children.

With commuting and job relocations, more children are moving further away from their aging parents. Even siblings are living further from one another. This translates to a lack of immediate familial support for the aging population.

Make A Difference

You can make a difference in the life of an elderly person today, tomorrow, everyday.

1. Be kind.

When you see an elderly person today, do something.

  • Smile. Wave. Say, “Good morning!” or “Hello!”
  • Open a door.
  • Yield the right of way.
  • Stand up and offer your seat.
  • Help carry something.
  • Find something in a store.

2. Volunteer.

Call a care facility in your area. Choose a nursing home, assisted care facility, independent living center or a long term care facility. When they answer “yes” (They will always need volunteers.), make a date.

3. Bring reinforcements.

Ask if the facility allows children and pets. Older people are overjoyed to see children. Children are drawn to grandparental units. Consider letting your child adopt a grandparent. Step back and enjoy the conversation which springs up between them.

Have you thought about bringing your grandchild? Grandparents are no longer relegated to the senior generations. Many people are grandparents in their late thirties and early forties. Take your grandchild to meet more grandparents.

Pets brighten our lives. Most facilities do not allow live-in pets because the residents cannot provide the care necessary for the animals. Many centers allow visiting pets who have shot records. The majority of residents miss having the companionship of a pet who can nuzzle, purr or fetch.

4. Enlist.

Make it a outing for the whole family. Get together your colleagues or teammates for the field trip. Throw together a live (comedy, musical, poetic reading) performance between you and your friends.

5. Bring goodies.

Most centers deny requests to bring in food because of diet restrictions for health reasons. What are not restricted?

  • Flowers
  • Books
  • Blankets and clothing
  • Music
  • Cards (greeting and playing)
  • Games

6. Find a hobby.

Facilities need volunteers to help replace the deadening television times for residents. They may ask you to play board games, cards or bingo; do craft projects; read; sing; play musical instruments; teach classes; or exercise. They may ask you to come and just be friendly and kind.

7. Ask questions.

Seniors are living longer than ever before. They are more full of life than in generations past. (Ever hear 60 is the new 40?) They have more disposable income. They have had more education than some of the generations following them. These are the people who were the generation which brought about some of the modern conveniences you take for granted into being.

Ask them about their lives. What was it like growing up in your hometown? Where have you lived? What was your favorite job? Do you still have the same hobbies? What change did you never imagine seeing in your lifetime?

Keep your mouth closed and exercise both ears.

8. Laugh.

Have a good time. Many elderly people have very little socialization. They only have the aides in their centers and a choice few other residents with whom to socialize. Brighten the day of someone who has given to the society so you could have the things you do now. Learn something. Be kind. Enjoy yourself. Your new friend will, too.


You MAD.

In another 25 years, there will be 18 million more seniors than there are today. You may be one of them. Consider what you would feel if you were in the shoes of a senior in a long term care facility today. Go and be the kind of person you would want to visit you.

Teach your children and grandchildren the valuable assets the eldest generations offer to them.


Can you Make A Difference in the life of an elderly person? Would you consider interviewing an elderly person and writing about them? When was the last time you sat down with someone at least 25 years older than you? Are you already part of the senior generation?

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. Barb

     /  August 3, 2012

    Bless you, Red. Probably many of us have cared for our parents. It certainly opens one’s eyes to the possible abuses and the many gaps out there. Of course I’ll be the one receiving care someday. And I hope others will still find the worth of my small contribution, even if it is only a smile.

    • Doll, you have so much to offer. You can even spin yarn from nigh on 200 years back by that time 😉 Great to see you tonight, Barb. xxx

  2. Beautiful Red, your thoughts always inspire others to do better…loved reading this post,I feel very strongly about caring for others and it saddens me when i see a couple or a single person spending their old age all alone..
    this is the age where they should be surrounded by their grandchildren and reading them stories and watching them grow..i have two such couples living in my neighbourhood..both retired long time back..sometimes we talk on phone and sometimes they just drop in for a cuppa and chat i love those times..and well i am a talkative so more the merrier 🙂
    Soma Mukherjee recently posted..How to write a nonsense poemMy Profile

    • That is lovely, sweet Soma! Children breathe life into us. All of us. I am sure your children adore the visits as well. <3

  3. I have friends up in NY who tell stories about when they got married (they’ve been married 61 years) and when they got back from their honeymoon, they had 20.00… it’s the first thing that popped into my head after you asked when’s the last time I spoke to someone older than me.

    As a matter of fact, I need to go visit them very soon…

    • $20 was a lot of money! That reminds me of a story my grandfather loved to tell of his first date with my grandmother. They were married 50 years. I hope you do go see them soon!

    • How odd. I got a notification that you responded but it’s not here on the page…

      Yes. I plan on going up there hopefully within the next couple of weeks. 🙂

      She had some eye surgery, both eyes and didn’t want company while she healed. She should be getting better now, so I’ll go up for a weekend. 🙂

  4. I have a lot of older friends, but after my life was put through the shredder for the past sixteen years (The persecution only ended a few weeks ago) I found myself unable to go out and visit them so I occasionally phone and chat with Lillian who is a lovely lady I’ve known for 26 years whose mother, Peg, I helped look after as she lived next door to me before she passed away in a care home.

    I also make a point of chatting to a few of the local elderly ladies when they are exercising their dogs and try to stay socialised as much as I can.

    I’m now 52 and suffering the effects of aging bones and joints so going to visit friends is not easy, but then again I get few visitors these days!

    Love and hugs!

    prenin recently posted..Thursday – Another Phishing email…My Profile

    • Oh, the snap, crackle and pop! I think we all have it to varying degrees. Keep talking, Pren. You will be out and about as much as you like before you know it. {HUGZ} Red.

  5. Thanks, Red, for this warm and loving post…after losing my Mom in February, watching her health deteriorate, it was an eye opener. And now, knowing my Dad is alone is even tougher. He’s 92 and still drives and is stronger than many younger than him. But, it magnifies the fact that we are mortal and our time will come. I’ve reached out to many elderly people in our church and it makes me feel better, helping them, talking or simply just being with them…life comes full circle, doesn’t it?
    Have a wonderful weekend and sending hugs! xo
    Lauren 🙂
    LScott recently posted..All Together – TankaMy Profile

    • It really does come full circle. Today, we had a great exercise in the children engaging elderly people whilst we were shopping. My daughter struck up a conversation with the cutest couple putting groceries into the trunk of their car. I hope you have a fabulous weekend as well, Lauren. So great to see you today. {HUGZ} Red. xxx

  6. These are wonderful, uplifting suggestions! I smile every time I see elderly couples holding hands xx
    Christy Birmingham recently posted..Eating. Madness.My Profile

    • They are so cute! See my comment to Lauren. We did some cute engaging of elderly people today. Little V came home to write a letter to her grandmother after we got home. She says, “But Grandmomma is not old!” Little pip. She’s right 😉 {HUGZ} Red. xxx

  7. As far back as I can recall, the sight of an elderly couple holding hands, going for a walk or simply supporting each other, always made me wish there were more like them. So many divorces and illnesses has diminished the numbers I’m sure.

    Not long ago, I heard of an elderly couple split between two nursing homes because no-one was able to accommodate them at the time. Heartbreaking to hear and also more heartbreaking for them. How can anyone let this happen?
    tess kann recently posted..I Was Born This WayMy Profile

    • That is entirely abominable. One of the things I adored to see were the Presidential anniversary cards my great-grandparents and both sets of grandparents got for their 50th wedding anniversaries. I wish many more went out. Did you read my comment about the couple at the store?

  8. Not part of it yet, but sharing care of my dad and mother-in-law. Most just want someone to listen. What’s the point of all the accumulated wisdom if there’s no one to share it with?
    Angela Young recently posted..Super Granny?My Profile

    • There are so many who have absolutely no audience. They truly need someone to listen to them. It proves to them (and the listener) they are still valuable. How could we possibly allow those who have given so much to feel second (or worse) to those yet unproven?


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