Better understand our elders

Understanding our elders better

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We often find it difficult to see what is happening in the lives of our elders or sometimes prefer to minimize the situation, perhaps also because it would be too confronting, or too painful. Seniors face a host of changes, bereavements, losses and upheavals that remain misunderstood or largely underestimated by those around them. Rich in experience and knowledge, seniors are too rarely appreciated and recognized at their true value, and that is why I wanted to pay tribute to them.

For a culture of caring for our elders

Certain gestures or reactions, whether incomprehension or insistence, can lead us to mistreat behaviors towards the elderly, without our knowledge. Often, we want to do the best, but unknowingly inflict bad treatment for lack of understanding of what is going on in their head. We owe it to ourselves, both collectively and individually, to pay particular attention to our reactions and interactions with seniors, to rethink these relationships, and to develop a culture of caring towards them.

Many seniors can , for example, being pressured to break up a house or to stop certain activities deemed risky by their relatives. In addition, the elderly may be forced, by people who wish them well, to perform occupational or social activities for which they have no interest. 

Let us also think of an elderly person suffering from aphasia following a stroke. This person may not understand, but he is not deaf. In front of someone who raises their voice, she could get angry or show anxiety, not understanding why people are yelling at her. When we understand that an aphasic person is not deaf, rather than raising the tone, we will choose to express ourselves with gestures or images in addition to language. Unfortunately, there are many examples where our interventions are poorly adapted due to a lack of understanding of what is going on in the brains of older people. 

Aging… and leaving your old life 

In one of Michel Tremblay's greatest plays, Albertine in Five Times, the 70-year-old protagonist, just installed in a CHSLD, launches this ironic remark: “At this time, nothing is going to happen… As long as that, it's also good to even… An empty woman, in front of an empty television, in an empty room that doesn't smell good. Is that what you call a busy life? ยป 

Albertine is probably saying aloud what many elders think to themselves… Putting the key in the door of his house, giving up the places of yesteryear to settle in the unknown, and often the impersonal, here is a titanic change of life which requires not only a form of abandonment, but also courage. < /p>

Getting older often means having to mourn more and more with less and less ability to adapt to it. Our friends leave before us, the children often end up founding a family, while the grandchildren that we once looked after with so much pleasure grow up in turn, and develop a thousand occupations which, inevitably, will take them away from their grandparents. parents. Many families are also overwhelmed or dispersed, and do not always have time to socialize. The last two years of the pandemic have also been particularly difficult for many seniors, who have experienced even more isolation since the beginning of this crisis.

Rethinking our ties with seniors

These bereavements of significant presences remind seniors that they have invested a lot of energy and time for their loved ones, and that they may no longer occupy the same place for them, the same importance, or the same functions.

While this stage comes with its share of losses, challenges and difficulties, it is not the only thing that defines seniors, quite the contrary. By making an effort to better understand the elderly and by listening to them, we often learn a lot about them, about their realities.

At this time of their life, it is all the more important that the elderly feel well cared for, with loved ones who have their well-being at heart and who remain sensitive and informed of their reality. We can all contribute to rethinking our relationships with them, and together, promote a real culture of good treatment for seniors.

My psychology column will take a break for the summer period. Looking forward to seeing you again this fall, and until then, I wish each of you the opportunity to take advantage of this time of year to recharge your batteries, to see the people you love, and to have a wonderful summer under the sign of benevolence.