A friend told me today that she met a 90 year old man in the doctors office. The man was sad because his bike partner had to enter a nursing home. She told me they talked and laughed during the wait for the doctor and that she was thinking of asking the doctor’s office to give him her phone number to see if he wanted her to become his new bike partner at the park close to both of them. I was really touched not just by her thoughtfulness but by her willingness to go a step further. I met so many senior citizens when my parents made their journey through assisted living, nursing home care and, finally, Alzheimer’s Center. I spent so many hours at each facility and knew so many of the residents on a first name basis…although I always called them Ma’am and Sir, lol! Nearly all of them, at one time or another, thanked me for sitting with them while my mother napped, or talking to them during lunch, or bringing them outside to sit with my family and I. They all said what they missed the most was human interaction, conversation, someone that wanted to sit and talk, listen and share with them. Many of them said they felt as if getting older made their opinions insignificant. Some, in the early stages of Alzheimers, said they knew what was coming for them and hoped their family and friends would still take the time to talk with them and listen to them, especially when they were confused. They liked being treated as adults with lifelong memories, brains that still functioned, and thoughts that still mattered, instead of the dismissive way many treated them, including healthcare professionals. They felt as if they were treated like annoying children that needed to be scolded and that’s how the fear started, the loss of dignity, the uselessness and the loneliness. I know we all tend to get busy with our lives, and frustrated by taking the time out of our busy lives to spend with an elderly person when there seem like so many more important things to do. My friend reminded me today what the most important thing in life is all about…love, compassion, understanding, patience and time. I know she made a difference in her 90 year old friends life today, even if he never calls, never bikes with her, never sees her again. Today she made a difference, because she took the time to talk, to listen, to laugh and to let this one human being know that he mattered in this world. I hope each and every one of us remembers and learns from this. When you see an elderly person, smile and say hello, you may be the only person that speaks to them today. If you’re in the park, on the bus, at the doctors or anywhere with just a few minutes to spare, talk to a Senior. Give them dignity, love, understanding and patience. Most of them lived through times of hardship we have never had to face. They did it without complaint, with dignity, grace and love for their families, their friends, their communities. They helped make us the people we are today. As they get older, we can give that back to them, one small gesture at a time. I like to think I touched a few lives when I took the time for others that were with my parents as they faced their final journey. Touch a life today, make a difference in one human beings life. Make this moment in time matter, and think ahead to when you could be in their shoes.


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