I decided to write this article because as I see my own parents age, I increasingly feel a sense of responsibility to care for them. My father and mother have worked tirelessly to give me and my sister the life we have today, a life full of opportunities, comfort and privilege. As they age, it is imperative that as their children we return the favor of caring and loving for them. I’m sure this will resonate with many of you as you see your own loved ones age in front of you.
Below I outline ten reasons why it is important to care for our elders. You can also find links to my “Wisdom of our elders” picture-articles below.
- Because they are our mothers and fathers. They are our first teachers. They teach how to love, how to care, how to give, how to forgive, how to accept, and most of all they are our backbone of support. Without their endless sacrifice during our early years, we wouldn’t be capable of what we are today. We need to care for our elders because they deserve to be cared for. Respect and care for our elders starts with our parents, our first Gurus.
- Wisdom. Our elders have more knowledge and wisdom than any one of us. Their experiences through the turbulence of storms that life takes them through yield great wisdom. They’ve come so far and they’ve learned so much, we have a responsibility to learn from that wisdom. So take the time to listen to what they have to say.
- Morals, values, principles. Our elders have either acquired, created or have been brought up with a set of morals, values and/or principles in their life. They may not apply to our own but the least we can do is see how those values impacted their lives. We can learn a thing or two from adopting those values. Learn the right and wrong. Have the insight into a set of rules that we can outline for ourselves to follow and live by. Our elders would want the best for us and they would be more than willing to tell us what set of rules and guidelines have made them successful and hopefully, peaceful.
- They love us. Unconditionally. No matter what you do in life, who you become, where you live, who you are with —our elders will always love us unconditionally. Sure they might be disappointed in you or be upset with you from time to time but at the end of the day you are still their kiddo. This kind of unconditional love is hard to find anywhere else in this universe. The mere presence of our elders gives us hope and strength to keep calm and carry on.
- Sacrifice. They worked their butt off for you, that’s why. Once we, as children, come into the picture our elders sacrifice much of their life to see to it that we are well and happy. They make sure to provide us with all the comforts. They sacrifice their own likes to see a smile on our faces. They look to us in times of failure or success to remind themselves what they are fighting for everyday.
- Experience. No matter what, your elders have years on you. For this simple reason, we must appreciate them. We may or may not know of all the ups and downs they’ve faced in life but they’ve definitely gained experience that is worth respecting and learning from. Our elders may hide much pain from us because they don’t want us to feel the pain, the least we can do is appreciate them for all that they’ve gone through—gained and lost—and learn from their insight into situations and circumstances.
- History and heritage. Both my grandparents lived under the British Rule of India. They preserved the importance of being a Brahmin—a Vedic scholar within the family and community. The traditions, rituals, languages, new clothes for every festival, food, wedding festivities etc., are unique to that heritage. This heritage and history brings a sense of belonging. Most importantly, it brings us a sense of identity of our past and the responsibility we have to stay true to our origins for future generations. This heritage and history is best preserved through our elders. We have much to learn from them with regards to our heritage, to be proud of our past.
- They are nearing their end and their future is uncertain. Put yourself in the shoes of an elderly person. When you know you are becoming fragile and your body is failing you, it’s difficult to cope with the uncertainty of the future—mentally and physically. Our elders may have many things on their mind but they may not be able to express them. Our responsibility comes in to give them the support they need to help them live the rest of their lives peacefully. No one wants their last days to be filled with regret and disappointment. So take charge of being that love and light, be with them in their last days.
- Because we are human beings and because it is the right thing to do. Humanity plays a crucial role in taking care of our elders. After all, we’re going to be elderly people some day too. The truth is we need our elders and we cannot live without them. There comes a day when they can’t live without us. They need our support just as much as they gave us theirs when we didn’t even ask for it. This brings out the humanity within us. This expression of humanity makes us human. When we act to care for our elders, our children will see that with respect and will act to care for us someday…at least we can hope they will.
So if you have some free time:
- Go volunteer at a old-age home.
- Re-connect with your grand parents. Give them some room in your day.
- Talk to your uncles and aunts, see how they are doing.
- If you have elders at home, listen to them. Talk to them. Spend some quality time with them. They would be more than happy.
- Help an elderly man or a woman on the street. Say hi to them or simply smile at them with respect.
You’d be glad you did, I promise.
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