Why You Need At Least One Older Friend In Your Life

August 21, 2018  |  
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Gettyimages.com/elderly woman walking with a younger woman

If you notice several vendors offering senior citizen discounts today and various venues putting on senior citizen events, that’s because it is National Senior Citizens Day! This day was created to honor our senior citizens, and recognize all that they’ve done for us. But you don’t need to wait all year, for a one-day holiday, to celebrate senior citizens. When I was in college, I got involved with a program that matched young people with elderly individuals in need of some company, and it wound up being a very influential and important part of my life. And today, I visit my grandfather as often as I can, and whenever I do, I walk away feeling very fulfilled. Senior citizens have a lot of wisdom—they have some of the best tips on how to enjoy life—and yet, we spend most of our time with our peers. Maybe it’s time to change that. Here are reasons you should befriend a senior citizen.

Gettyimages.com/A lady doctor making an old lady smile.

See your power to make someone smile

Nothing feels better than making someone else feel good. The moment you make a senior citizen smile, just by showing up to say hello, you’ll forget about all your questions of, “Do I have a purpose? Am I doing anything valuable in this life?”

Gettyimages.com/Portrait of smiling senior woman with hand on chin. Confident retired female is against gray background. She is in pink casual.

Gratitude for life

The truth is that, since we don’t often see elderly individuals—since they are often isolated in retirement communities—it can be hard to remember that we don’t stay young forever. But it’s good to remember that. It makes you grateful.

Gettyimages.com/A senior African-American woman in her 60s in a swimming pool, smiling and looking at the camera, hanging onto the side.

A reminder to be gentle

When you spend time with an elderly individual, you naturally wind up being a little gentler. You try to only tell stories that are positive. You avoid being crass. You’re sweeter. You’re better than you typically are because you have respect for this person in front of you, and want to create a gentle environment for her.

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Reminder to go for things

When you are reminded that you won’t always have the energy or time to go after your dreams—like by spending time with someone who has long been retired—you are reminded to go after what you want now.

Gettyimages.com/Sulking wife lying angry in bed, her husband trying to excuse himself, pleading, he like to see his wife happy and smiling again. Couple Bedroom Marital Problems Daily Life Concept Shot.


Perspective on relationships

Chances are that someone in her eighties or nineties had a great love in her life. And when she tells you about it, you’ll hear that it was simple. It wasn’t full of some of the things you may be experiencing, like guys who ghost you or guys wanting open relationships. Your elderly friend won’t understand why you tolerate any of that and, that’s good for you to see.

Gettyimages.com/grandmother dancing with a child

Perspective on family

From an outside perspective, it can be good to hear an elderly person talk about her relationship with her family—like with her parents and siblings. Maybe she made some of the same mistakes you’re making now in those relationships and she regrets it. Listen to her.

Gettyimages.com/grandmother elderly Woman and young girl embracing outdoors

They have wisdom

Elderly people have so much wisdom. Maybe they can’t tell you exactly what stock to invest in or how to use a certain app, but they can tell you the big picture things about how to navigate relationships and how to tackle self-doubt.

Gettyimages.com/A senior African-American woman in her 70s sitting at a table in a coffee shop, having coffee and pastries. She is smiling and looking at the camera.

They have incredible stories

Somebody in her thirties just doesn’t have the stories that somebody in her eighties does. Elderly individuals got to see the long con—how longer stories like those of wars or political scandals played out.

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They’ve seen history

If you ever think for a second that history doesn’t repeat itself—that the things you’re seeing in the news today are novel and unique—just talk to an elderly person. They’ll remind you that the trends you see in human nature and politics have repeated themselves for centuries.

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Gratitude for agility

Do you know what your elderly friend wouldn’t give to be able to dance, jog, or take a walking tour of a city right now? So respect your agility and make the best of it—an elderly person will remind you to do so.

Gettyimages.com/Two twenty something girlfriends laughing at the park in the summertime

They show you life-long friends matter

When you witness your elderly friend spend time with, or just talk about, her life-long friends, you’ll be reminded to nurture those friendships in your life. They clearly are very important when you get older.

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Appreciation for simple things

Something as simple as a therapy dog, a nice view, and a really good cupcake can make an elderly person’s day. Maybe we should take a page out of of their books.

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An understanding of what matters

When a senior citizen tells you the stories from her life that mattered, those stories won’t involve little disputes with landlords or manipulative coworkers. They’ll be big picture stories and they could remind you how many of the little things you obsess over don’t matter.

Gettyimages.com/Loving African American couple being consoling each other at home

Some have no family

Many senior citizens have no family to visit them. Perhaps they never had children or siblings, or their family lives across the world. It means so much to them to have a visitor they can count on.

Gettyimages.com/An old woman cutting vegetables in the kitchen.

It teaches you patience

When you spend time with an elderly person, you need to speak slowly, walk slowly, and wait for them to do things at their pace. It teaches you to be patient and tread lightly.

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