I started composing my article on befriending an older adult a few days back due to an experience I had a couple of weeks back. However, a practical occurrence that passes for a solution presented itself today when ten members of the youth group in the church visited my 87-year-old father at home.
BE A FRIEND TO AN OLDER PERSON
A couple of weeks back, early in the morning, I went to buy fruits at one of the big markets in Lagos, a populous city in Nigeria. It was a wet morning and moving around in puddles of water was quite difficult. I had my grocery list with me and I was determined not to buy anything not written on my list in order to keep to time and return home early. I finished my shopping and, on my way out saw a big basket of garden eggs beckoning at me but what fascinated me more was the old woman who sat by it trying to move the basket for customers to notice her.
I walked to her spot to buy a small plate of garden eggs, we haggled about the price for a couple of minutes before we finally reached a bargain. I was about leaving but on a second thought decided to ask if she needed help and she smiled, told me how I could assist her. I helped her to arrange the remaining garden eggs in smaller plates to be sold and a conversation started on how it is rare for buyers to give a helping hand most especially on a working morning. She told me about her family and how they do not want her trading in the market but went against their wish as she finds it difficult to stay alone at home when the daughter she stays with goes to work and grandchildren goes to school. She despises being alone, she continued conversing with me and coming to the market gives her joy so much more she feels alive. Our conversation went on a little longer until I got a message on my phone that jolted me back to how far time had gone. I told her that I needed to leave and she was very elated that I had made her day and gave me extra garden eggs,
On my way home, I thought about so many old people that are living amongst families yet living lonely lives. Their families may think they have provided all they need to keep them happy, yet these old people feel neglected. They need companionship in form of short visits or chit-chats as these go a long way to keep them alive. They need their grandchildren around them if they do have grandchildren.
Old people need more than family support, they need spiritual, emotional and psychological support too. However, everyone’s claim at how busy they are and what little time they have for themselves is not sufficient. Time is not sufficient for anyone and everyone but dedicating 30 minutes to 60 minutes of our time to an old person makes a whole lot of difference in their lives. This is made evident in the short visit by the group of ten that came visiting today. This group was happy having learned a bit of history and were each given a book authored by my father while my father encouraged them to visit more old people as it is refreshing seeing young people impacting old people’s lives through companionship.
Let us all endeavour to be friends with the old people in our midst.
Holdtheage with DeeGee