The student news website of Omaha Central High School

We need to care more for our elderly culturally

February 18, 2022

When I was a little kid, around the ages of nine to twelve, my mom worked at a nursing home as a CNA. A couple times a year my mom would bring my brother and I to work to visit the residents. 

 She always emphasized how nice it was for us to come, that it was important. I didn’t really understand it at the time or why strangers were excited to see me. We would buy ice cream and play board games, listen to the elderly tell stories about their youth and talk about me and my brother’s soccer seasons. 

The reality is that these elderly strangers were so depressed and lonely, they were more than happy to listen to two little kids ramble. My mom would tell me that so many of her patients never had family visit them, so it’s very likely my brother and I were the closest thing they got to seeing their grandchildren.  

Those in nursing homes many times are extremely sick or dying, so physical health is poor along with emotional health. These people feel intense isolation, their only usual interactions being with nurses, all while they try to cope with their last years, declining health and independence and death. The situation is bleak in thousands of cases. Seeing children makes these elderly people feel excited again, reminds them of their youth and makes them feel less lonely. 

For these reasons, there has to be an increase in volunteer work in long term care facilities. It is absolutely unacceptable for the elderly in our country to spend their last years with feelings of isolation and neglect. While putting the elderly in nursing homes probably won’t change, a cultural attitude towards the elderly has to.  

Volunteering is an impactful start. Older adults, teenagers, kids and especially young adults can uplift their moods through volunteer work at nursing homes. Organizing games, activities, birthday parties, tournaments, clean-up activities, give manicures, create memory bulletin boards, and more. Contacting a local nursing home and asking how to help is sure to give someone more ideas.  

The holidays are an especially good times to get younger siblings to make crafts for the residents or take them trick or treating down the halls. Giving back to older generations and acknowledging their humanity by visiting improves their quality of life. People shouldn’t be left behind and forgotten just because they’ve aged.

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