בס”ד

The golden years, the third generation, senior citizens, elderly citizens. These are ‘catch phrases’ to describe the over sixty-five age group.

Years ago, the conception was that when you reached the golden age of sixty-five you some how changed from a productive member of society, going to work every day to one who would lay around all day not doing very much, complaining about this and that and as time passed became dependent on others.

Today, we know this is nonsense. Most older citizens are very productive member of society using their experiences in life to speak to youth groups, college students and do volunteer work.

It is not unusual to find a senior in their 70’s still working. The President of Israel, Shimon Peres was born in 1923 making him 89 years young [ad120]. He still works full time.

Many seniors say they have no interest in retiring. Retirement means to them that they are not useful any more so why live.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, and I am sure this applies to Israeli seniors as well: depression is one of the most common mental health problems affecting seniors. Depression among seniors can be caused by a variety of psychological, social and biological factors. Grief at loss of a life partner, family, or friends, and changes in social roles and health are all normal life experiences, they do not necessarily cause mental illnesses but, these stresses in a person’s life can increase the risk of developing depression, especially if they continue for too long or if the elderly lacks supports to help them recover.

In Israel the stress of living in fear of a rocket attack is an additional stress. Seniors are terrified of the warning siren. Those who use walkers or are confined to wheelchairs say they are afraid that they will not be able to get to a safe room in time.

On the other side of the coin, there are seniors who at age 65 are more than happy to retire. Some feel they have worked all their life and now is the time to travel and do all things they couldn’t do when they were working and raising their family.

Others are suffering from illnesses that require medical care. Fortunate is the senior who has children and grown-up grandchildren who are more than happy to help care for their elderly parents and  grandparents.

There are seniors who live with their children either in the family home or an adjoining apartment.

There are seniors who are afraid to loose their independence and privacy. They require a caregiver but want to remain in their own home. Their children and grandchildren phone and visit on a regular bases.

And then you have seniors who live in nursing homes because they are ill and require care. Their children and grown grandchildren are so involved with themselves and their own life, that they have no desire to be a caregiver. They never phone or visit their elderly parents or grandparents.  Are these seniors really living “their golden years”? I think not.

The elderly woman

sat by herself

eagerly waiting..

for the phone to ring.

The chime clock

ticked

minute by minute

but still

the phone

didn’t ring.

In her younger days

while raising her family

a devoted mother

she was….

making sure

the needs of her children

and family

always came first.

But now

the children are grown

with families of their own

their lives

are so busy

there is just no time

for them

to pick up the phone.

The loneliness she feels……

where did I go wrong

is my usefulness really gone?

These are her constant thoughts

as the tears

run down her wrinkled face.

There’s a knock at the door

slowly she gets up to answer

her daughter is standing there

with hands filled with a beautiful bouquet.

“Hi Mom,” she says

“thought I would surprise you

and drop in to say hello.

I saw these beautiful flowers

and I know how much

you love flowers.”

“Let’s have some tea

I have some thoughts

I want to share with you.”

“Your grandchildren are wonderful

and miss you so much.

They want to know why

you live alone

 and they never get to see you.”

“Mom, as a family

we made a decision

to ask you to come

and live with us.”

“We have plenty of room

so you can have your own space

but you never

have to be

alone again.”

“So what do you say

hope it will be yes.

You can move in

whenever you wish.”

“Mom, we love you so much

it would be our honor and privilege

to have you grace our home.

so will you say yes”….

With tears streaming down their faces

both mother and daughter

embrace.

“If you are sure

it won’t be a problem

and I won’t be under foot

the honor will be all mine!”

If you are fortunate to have senior parents, or have a senior neighbor, please treat them with dignity. Phone and visit. Show that you care about them. Remember, one day, you too will be a senior and want to be treated with the same dignity.