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Seize the Opportunity

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Most young adults have heard a parent or grandparent say, “When I was your age…” Older people have vast amounts of knowledge to share with young adults. However, most young adults choose to spend their time with friends or in front of the television and computer. Young adults should take advantage of opportunities to gain knowledge from older generations.

Older people gain their knowledge from experience. From that experience they can share lessons about life and about history. The history of our world and our families is dying every day. Veterans of World War II will not be around much longer. The President of an Honor Flight system that transports war veterans to and from the nation’s capital said that officials believe nearly 1,000 World War II veterans die every day in America. Last week, my neighbor died, and I later discovered that he was a World War II veteran and recipient of a purple heart. If I had only taken the time to get to know him better, I might have found a valuable source of knowledge. Young adults should seize the chance to gain knowledge from older people’s experience.

When we think that older people have no more to offer, we patronize them and put them into homes where their knowledge sits unused. Recently, I spent a day in the hospital with my grandmother. The nurses treated me like the adult. I felt as though the child became the adult, and the adult became the child. Although my grandmother went along with the charade, I could see the hurt in her eyes. Why do we feel the need to treat people who have experienced so much as if they were children? Many elderly people may have failed physically, but not mentally. They may be the only repository of family history or world events. We should learn from them.

Many elderly people have a wealth of knowledge that they will willingly share with a young adult that befriends them, but if we ignore them they become lonely. Once we take the opportunity to spend time with them, they light up. The Fairfax Nursing Center in Northern Virginia is one of the many nursing homes in America that uses the Eden-Alternative approach to nursing-care. The facility features numerous plants, animals roaming freely, and constant music to make the environment more inviting. Also, preschool children periodically come to interact with the residents or play outside. Truly inspired. This facility recognizes that elderly people need to interact not just with one another, but also with the world and people of all ages.

Some young adults may think that befriending an older person is a waste of time. They must remember that we, as young adults, have the rest of our lives to do what we want. Elderly people do not have much time left to share their valuable knowledge. We must take advantage of what time they do have left and absorb their knowledge wholeheartedly.

Older people have generations of knowledge that we, as young adults, cannot access unless we pursue a relationship with them. They acquired their knowledge from years of experience, yet we patronize them for their physical fragility. They will readily share their knowledge. Young adults must embrace every opportunity to gain knowledge from older people. Talk to your grandparents about your family’s history. Find a nearby nursing home and offer to help. Make an effort to make a difference in an older person’s life, and your life will change too. Gain knowledge from these valuable older mentors before they are lost. Once you do, your life and theirs’ will greatly change.





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MountainGirl said...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm
I totally agree. Do you plan on spending more time with elders, or getting more people your age involved?
 
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