There is a tendency by some elements of society to write off the elderly as having nothing left to contribute, or seeing them as a drain on society’s resources. Nothing could be further from the truth. Seniors have a great deal to contribute given their wealth of knowledge, depth of experience and sense of history. They also have abilities learned over a lifetime not only in having developed specific skills, but also in interpersonal and relationship building skills that can offer many benefits to the younger members of society. Sometimes even seniors themselves tend to think their productive days are over and they have nothing left to give. If society or the seniors fail to recognize what they have to offer, everyone loses. Senior care agencies can play a part in making sure seniors are able to share what they have to offer with the broader society, giving them an opportunity to give even more back to the society to which they have already contributed.
Seniors sometimes have more time to do the things that their younger counterparts who are busy raising young children and earning a living do not. Seniors can contribute time and expertise gathered from years of experience with charitable, religious and community organizations. Many times the talents that seniors have developed over years in professional or domestic arenas are just what these organizations need. Some organizations are even developing volunteer programs specifically for seniors in order to harness the richness of experience and expertise that seniors have to offer. Even if the senior has some physical or other limitations, there is often much opportunity for them to contribute.
Volunteering is not without its own rewards for the senior as well. Not only is there the satisfaction of contributing and sharing one’s experience and expertise with others, but there are potential cognitive and social benefits for the senior who remains actively engaged in their community. Volunteer work also has an element of promoting good physical health as well – getting out of the house keeps seniors mobile and some volunteer work can involve physical activity as well.
There are many people who can benefit from hearing the wisdom of seniors. Whether it is family members or friends, grandchildren or neighborhood children, seniors have much to share. Young children especially can benefit from interactions with seniors, and will often carry the wisdom and advice gained during those interactions into their adulthood. Seniors who do not have children or grandchildren should not let their wisdom be lost. Seniors can share their wisdom by finding other adults and children who may not have a grandparent or parent in their lives and sharing their wisdom with them. Intergenerational friendships can be very enriching to everyone involved.
Again, everyone benefits when seniors share their wisdom with others. Not only does the younger generation gain knowledge and wisdom, learning from the stories of those who have come before them, but seniors benefit from the social interaction and the opportunity to know that they are leaving a mark on future generations. Senior care agencies note that this can improve the senior’s own mental and physical health and promote an improved quality of life.