Being kind to senior folks, especially when it’s unexpected, has a tremendous impact and goes much further than you might think. The purpose of this blog entry is to remind you of the value of these kind acts, explain why they’re so useful and, hopefully, encourage you to act accordingly.
Why the elderly appreciate kind acts more than most:
It’s pretty simple when you think about it. Senior citizens, as they get on in years, have less and less going on their lives. This means they do less, see fewer people and generally have less stimulating lives. And when a person has less going on, he/she applies more focus to smaller details and, accordingly, these smaller details become more important. These small details can be anything, including small, random acts of kindness.
Let’s look at a simple example like sending a thoughtful card or letter. This is a nice thing to do regardless of the situation and recipient’s age, but consider the following. If you sent a friend or peer a card, that person would enjoy receiving it, but the impact would be very different for an elderly person. A typical (non-senior) person would receive the card amidst 50+ other things that happened that day including a few dozen emails, phone calls, regular interaction with people, work logistics, meetings and a myriad of other daily responsibilities and activities. He or she may not even have time to thoroughly read or think about the card. On the other hand, if a senior citizen received the same card amidst his/her day the impact would be much greater – perhaps 5x or 10x the value! If you question this, think of how important any act / event / activity / thoughtful gesture, etc. is when it’s one of only a few ‘new’ or interesting things that happen in your day. What if you no longer worked, received little to no mail, email, phone calls or text message; and had very few active hobbies, spent most of your day reading or watching TV and hardly saw anybody? If this was the case, wouldn’t small gestures like receiving a letter (or for that matter, a phone call, visit from a friend or family member) mean so much more? The answer, obviously, is YES.
And, the returns to you are huge, relative to the amount of energy and time it actually takes YOU to do something as simple as writing a note, making a phone call or paying somebody a visit (not because you had to, but because you just wanted to be kind). The amount of energy it took to write the card is the same, regardless of the recipient, but the impact (or return value) from sending that card to an elderly person was so much greater.
Think of the people in your life that would literally ‘light up’ with the biggest smile if you simply sent a letter, made a phone call or dropped by to say hello. And what if you did this on a regular basis? The amount of effort it takes is so minimal relative to the return (the impact it has). It’s good karma making other people happy and in turn, this will make you happier. When was the last time you got a big hug from somebody simply because you wrote a note? Now start writing (or visiting, or whatever is best in your situation). And please comment on this blog with how it goes. I’d love to hear about it.