As we age: Giving the gift of company

People should know that most of the elderly ask for little from others

  • Dec. 20, 2012 1:00 p.m.

By Graham Hookey

Contributor

As the holiday season sets in, it is important for everyone involved with the elderly to remember that perhaps the most important thing they can receive is the gift of company.

One of the great challenges of getting old is losing your friends and social connections, and in a modern world where the workforce is mobile, losing a personal relationship with relatives.

Loneliness is difficult at the best times, but often deeper in the holiday season.

It is, at times, like the holidays that a letter, a phone call, or a visit can mean so much more.

The arrival of flowers, or a fruit basket, or a simple gift at the door can make all the difference to someone who is a shut-in or who lives alone.

A tin of baked goods taken to an elderly neighbour who’s rarely seen, can remind them that they are not invisible or forgotten.

As an educator, I know we do a lot in schools to support the homeless, the hungry and the children whose families may not be in the financial position to provide them with the kind of holiday we would wish for any children.

Schools often take choirs and bands to eldercare homes and the sight of young people is generally greeted with big smiles and lots of laughter.

Every grandparent tends to enjoy the company of children.

Of course, in such homes, there are generally a lot of dedicated staff members who provide company and support to the elderly on a daily basis.

But in almost all of our neighbourhoods, there are elderly couples or single individuals who spend much of their time out of our line of sight.

They may choose to be reclusive or they may have become so through a combination of mobility issues, depression or simply shyness in interacting with others.

Of all the things I have learned since I have spent time with the elderly friends and neighbours of my parents, it’s that most of the elderly ask for very little from others.  They have a tendency to take care of their own business and don’t like to bother others.

Maintaining the appearance of independence is important to them.

But they love company.

Perhaps it would be a good idea during this holiday season to take a look around and see if someone in the neighbourhood could use a little kindness.

Although it might seem like a gift to them, to offer some company or some baked goods, it might turn out to be a gift to you.

 

Graham Hookey writes on education, parenting and eldercare (ghookey@yahoo.com).

Just Posted

Ridge Jr. B Flames making additions

Four players sign, two coaches join mix.

UPDATE: Two-vehicle incident on Abernethy Way, Maple Ridge

Road near 227th Street reopens in both directions.

Maple Ridge elementary protest to protect against climate change

Grade 7 Albion students march in front of municipal hall.

Maple Ridge teacher celebrated as inclusive education champion

Carissa Keenan teaches at Harry Hooge elementary.

Haney Rotary ups bursary amounts

Total is $19,000 this year, up from $11,000 in 2018.

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

Most Read