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Stubborn Old, Stubborn Young

Maybe Grumpy Seniors are Children Dressed Up in Older Bodies . . .

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~The Dalai Lama

My oldest grandson who works as a nurse, recently said, “Grandma, you, and other old people tend to be stubborn.” He continued, “Many times, at work, I try to help. Instead of accepting my offer, the older person says, “Oh no! I’m fine. I don’t need anything.” Frustrating to my grandson who wants to do his nursing job well. Perhaps even more frustrating if the older individual happens to be his grandmother!

Growing older provides wonderful benefits. Each day, I rise with gratitude that I am still here, doing my best to participate in life and striving to be of service. And yet, through the years, much has been lost. Not the least losses result from the deaths of friends and relatives. Appearance, memory, physical skills, and even some graces seem to go by the wayside.

Most likely, our resistance — our stubbornness, represents our feeble attempts to hang on to a shred of self-worth. A bit of dignity becomes worth fighting for as one pretends to have more mastery than reality proclaims as truth.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that children benefit when adults avoid labeling them as either good or bad. Children, teens, and older adults who behave badly, usually do so because they feel wounded or frightened. Maybe, like children, we senior citizens would benefit from not being considered either good or bad.

Language, which often helps an upset child, might be just as helpful to an anxious older individual feeling the losses over the years. In a previous post, I suggested, that when thanking a toddler for picking up toys, we change “You are a good girl” to “You are a helper. Thank you for helping me pick up your toys.” Could the same communication be used with an elderly person?

The post continued by suggesting that “-er” words work better than “-ing” words. Consider the following “er” words the next time your antique grandmother gives you a hard time.

· Wow! What a hard worker you are, Grandma!

· Even at age 83, you are still a learner.

· You continue to be a thinker. Thanks for sharing ideas.

· Grandpa, you like everyone. They should hire you to be a greeter.

· I can tell that you like to talk. In fact, you seem to be a champion talker. Tell me an old stories.

In closing, I quote Mark Nepo. “We’re all searching for something we’ve never lost. It’s the love of God buried deep inside each of our souls — whether young or old. The internal voice can whisper to elderly parents and children alike: I love you. You have enough. You are enough.”

Source: Nepo, Mark. “The Book of Awakening.” Red Wheel. 2020.


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