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Old 12-20-2016, 12:20 AM
Location: too far from the sea
19,882 posts, read 18,894,234 times
Reputation: 33808


I don't have any elders left. But when they were in their 90s, I did listen. I wish I had asked more, listened more. I got lucky because of my interest in family history. It caused me to interview a 90 year old uncle. It never would have occurred to me to ask these questions if they hadn't been on a list of things to ask for genealogy.

How they coped when they came to this country in 1912, what it was like to leave all your family behind, knowing you would never see them again, why that side of the family bonded so strongly--it was because all they had was each other and they never even knew their own cousins.

That someone could be really sick when they were young and then go on to live to be almost 100--I never knew that about my grandmother and it's a smart thing to know. You can see someone who is weak but they turn around and live to nearly 100 with never a dull moment, full of fun.

That in the old days people knew how to cope and they didn't have the luxury of being sensitive or pampering their feelings. If they had to kill a favorite animal to eat, they just did it.

I saw an memorable example of what to do when someone suffers a deep loss. What I saw was--take something, practically anything, and just GIVE it to them. Right away. Grab a book of nice pictures from your bookcase, race over to their house and just hand it to them. Give them a pen, give them something tangible. They have LOST, now they need to RECEIVE. And it takes their mind off their loss, plus making them feel that they matter. I saw that and in the future when I suffered a loss, I recognized that same need in myself, to be given to.

People that you love and admire can be capable of terrible things. I think I had an elderly aunt on each side of the family who killed her husband! One had a cheater and, though it was never proven, the newspapers remarked how strange his death was, aboard his boat. The other never liked her second husband and allowed him to die without calling for help. It's cold blooded and something I don't want to do. But the behavior grew out of a time when people did what they had to do and went on with their lives. No sentimental nonsense. I am horrified to think of it and I don't know if it was wise or not but both went on happily with their lives.

I learned that good parents can end up with nasty kids through no fault of their own. I heard the stories, not just from the parent but also from unbiased witnesses. I saw also that a retired man can be eternally grateful to a teacher who saw potential in him and pulled some strings to get him into college. And that the retired man will go forward to help other people who are in need, as he was.

I learned that people tell white lies that are passed down in the family. The elders will finally tell you--or not! But if you persist, maybe one of the disloyal elders will tell you the truth! Then things make sense and you gain a better understanding of human behavior now that you have the full picture.

I guess I was lucky to have family members who lived such long lives and who enjoyed talking about the past when I asked. They didn't dwell on it but they'd answer my questions. I wish I had asked them for advice instead of just asking about their lives. There was a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on. But now I just try to emulate them and to try to learn from their experiences.

But I've always loved to listen to old people.
my posts as moderator will be in red. Moderator: Health&Wellness~Genealogy. The Rules--read here>>> TOS. If someone attacks you, do not reply. Hit REPORT.
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Old 12-20-2016, 02:06 AM
Location: next up where ever I go
588 posts, read 345,366 times
Reputation: 2087
I am 61 and have two friends about to turn 80.

I have wine with one and we discuss politics. We have agreed that when or if the time comes that we wish to protest I am to drive the car and she will hold the sign!

The other friend does not drink but she does lunch so that is what we do and we discuss finances, politics, her grandkids, our pets or anything else going on. She is about as a go getter as could be and can still light up a room with her personality.

I am blessed to have these two wonderfully interesting women in my life.

And from time to time they ask me what my take is on life. Since I am officially an elder now LOL!
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Old 12-20-2016, 07:38 AM
6,307 posts, read 4,755,565 times
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Originally Posted by Aery11 View Post
I keep hoping that someone .. preferably someone like my own daughter .. may also 'hear' me sometime down the line. She doesn't ask for advice but I like most parents do try to slip it to her occasionally when we feel our experience is relevant and 'needed'. So far though I see little to no indication that any of it has been 'received' much less processed or utilized........
In my experience, the wisest people have given up trying to tell others how they should lead their lives. Solicited advice is a different matter.
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Old 12-20-2016, 10:55 AM
6,307 posts, read 4,755,565 times
Reputation: 12919
Originally Posted by charmen View Post
..... There is no one with more wisdom than someone who has experienced it-especially those who have experienced pain-instead of throwing away our greatest asset we as a society need to embrace and nourish our wise elders as the native Americans and so many cultures in this world. Grandma shouldn't go in any home but yours!
Not just native Americans, but most primitive cultures placed value on the elders. For primitive cultures without written records, the elders were the source of knowledge and culture. Of course, the "elders" were likely to be in their 40s and 50s. Hardly anyone lived to 60 or longer. Regardless of age, many primitive cultures were pretty heartless when it came to those who were sick and non-productive. Those who could not keep up were often left behind to die.

As to keeping Grandma at home, good luck. My MIL was in a nursing home. For the last 5-7 years there, she did not recognize her children, lost control of bodily functions and could not feed herself. Trying to care for her at home would have required constant care. It would have decimated the life of the relatives and would not have been kind to her. I hope before I get to that point, I have enough sense to walk out on the iceberg, lay down and die.

In any case, I think it is clear that the days of the "wise elders" has long past.
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Old 12-20-2016, 11:40 AM
52,029 posts, read 41,851,918 times
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I have one or two and have asked stuff in the past.

The biggest problem is that while some issues are timeless, many social issues have shifted and so it's hard to relate the situation.

Some of their best insights however can be deeply personal as they're related to their position in life with experiences we may not even know to ask about like mortality and other concepts most of us are blithely unaware of.
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Old 12-20-2016, 01:30 PM
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
10,529 posts, read 8,778,692 times
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Becoming old gives you lots of opportunity to make and learn from your "mistakes" or blame others.

Who do you think are the wise ones?
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Old 12-20-2016, 03:09 PM
Location: colorado springs, CO
4,990 posts, read 2,299,826 times
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Not being able to listen to lifetimes of experiences from far away places & far away decades is one of the things I miss most about being employed (I'm an RN).

Some of the most profound things can be said in such a simple way & some of them didn't even seem profound at all until I was older & mature enough. I'd remember somebody & something they said & have an "AHA!" moment ...

My maternal grandparents were from "The Old Country" (Greece) & there was a language barrier. My grandma used to try though: "Cdistina ... you pray to de Got (God) ... for you to fine a nice Gdeek boy from de church to maddy (marry) you eena (and you) build de life".

I should have listened. My sister did. I didn't & I regret that I didn't even try.

My paternal grandmother was a hoot; the sweetest woman ever born. Born in Nebraska but grew up in the mining towns of the Rocky Mountains. Buffalo Bill Cody was her Godfather; she tasted whiskey for the first time ever as a teething baby sitting in his lap.

The Carnegie Boulder Public Library has an Oral History from her there along with other "Pioneer Family" records. My grandfathers family were the first Italian settlers in Colorado & I never got to meet him but I FEEL like I have ...

I don't think my father, aunt or uncles know this but I used to listen to her alot & I've heard the story about her "first crush"!

And it wasn't my grandpa; it was as a girl about 15 years old, sitting alone at home one summer afternoon on the steps of a cabin in the woods on the outskirts of a little mining town ... She hadn't heard a thing, not a rustle or the the snap of a twig ...when she looked up to see a young Indian brave standing in front of her.

She said he was tall, muscular & dark, with long black hair loose down his back. "He was the most beautiful man I've EVER seen ..." she'd say. They stared at each other for a moment, he grinned at her & she smiled back .... "And he was gone. Back into the woods as quiet as he had come ..."

The things you hear from older people are random; it's not like you climb to the top of a mountain to ask some Guru about the meaning of life.

And I don't think older people are clueless regarding them being "easy" to scam. Obviously age & dementia may factor in & although the con artist has existed since the dawn of time; bad people have more advantages now than when they were younger.

They grew up when people were who they said they were. And did what they said they would do. If somebody asked you for money it was because they needed it.

They either trusted, or knew well enough NOT to trust; their neighbors & didn't trust the Banks. Now; the bank has all the cash, your house, your car & if you have to put gas in the car you use the plastic Visa the bank authorized you to use. You don't know your neighbors & the police don't know the homeowners from the traveling roof guy rip-offs staking out the homes.

A few years ago in my city, a few elderly people were scammed by phone callers calling in the middle of the night who pretended to be their grandkid ... "Gramma; this is ******; I'm in jail & I need money to bond out. Mom is mad at me, please don't tell her I called you!"

That didn't happen when "******" was asleep upstairs & "Mom" was sitting on the sofa. Now, a few minutes online tells you everything you need to know to scam somebody & that wasn't even a possibility when my parents were my age.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:34 PM
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
12,290 posts, read 12,529,205 times
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I have given up on handing out advice to young people. Getting out of poverty requires a dedication to a 5 year or 10 year plan and a lot of discipline. When their horizon runs to the next paycheck, I may as well be babbling in Klingon.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:34 PM
Location: Northern Virginia
28 posts, read 20,126 times
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I am 58 and my mother is 84. She is still my wise counsel. My mother is not interested in the internet, does not like receiving a text, and keeps phone numbers in her memory and phonebook.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:38 PM
3,948 posts, read 3,268,218 times
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I can't say much about those elderly folks who have meandered their way through life with the least effort and focus, however, the older writers in their eighties are wonderful people to listen to just for the fact that they have been around to see the big changes in society and can adequately comment on them. Studs Terkel comes to mind as well as Howard Zinn and John Kenneth Galbraith. These people, when young, were living in a time when people didn't cherish intellectualism nor was the average citizen interested in much more than baseball or knitting.

Their collective take on things includes that most allusive factor in the American consciousness, critical thinking. And yes it is true that the elderly of today have little to offer the youth beyond the cursory advice of, stay in school and work hard. But then again, I'm seventy one and my elders were just as disappointing in their attempts to tell us much, most of them grew up and died on ranches, their best advice would have been along the lines of, watch your step, I guess. I think the best time to speak with the elderly with regard to advice is when you know they have had a full and interesting life while keeping up with the times. Life is probably set up to be somewhat of a surprise anyway,best you learn your own lessons and figure out the best solutions to your dilemma's.
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