Take time to connect with older people

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Michael Smith
Michael Smith

“Tuesdays with Morrie” is marking its 20th anniversary this year. The New York Times bestseller, one of my favorites, continues to resonate with me since the time I read it many years ago.

As you may know, the book is a personal memoir that chronicles writer Mitch Albom's weekly visits with Morrie Schwartz, a college professor and mentor with whom Albom had lost touch as he made his way in the professional world. They reconnect years later near the last months of the older man's life.

In the book, Albom details the advice and life lessons Morrie would impart to him during their visits, including:

  • “We put our values in the wrong things, and it leads to very disillusioned lives.”
  • “Don't let go too soon, but don't hang on too long.”
  • “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

I've always enjoyed being around older people. Some of my favorite memories in life revolve around interactions with my grandparents, older relatives and friends. Their effect on me has helped to shape who I am today.

In fact, it's probably not a coincidence that I work for a senior living organization. Each day (not just Tuesdays), I'm the beneficiary of incredible wisdom, accomplishments and life experiences of our elders. Their stories also seem to resonate with visitors to our company website and social media pages when we share them.

If you are fortunate enough to still have living grandparents, spend some time talking with them, and visit them often. They are in your life for a reason.

Ask them questions. Ask for their advice. Learn from them.

Seniors have a lifetime of experience and unique ability to not take life so seriously, find humor in things and simplify matters. Take their photos and have them share their stories and wisdom on video, which you surely will cherish when they no longer are around.

Maybe it's not a grandparent but an older friend, teacher or work colleague with whom you've lost touch but who gave you sound advice and helped you find your way. Reach out to that person, whomever it is, even if it's been many years since you've last spoken. If a personal visit isn't possible, there's Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts; email; phone calls; and other ways to rekindle a relationship.

Making connections in the business world certainly is important, but take some time to connect with older people, too. Although they no longer may be working, these adults still can make a difference in your professional and personal life.

Who is that person for you? Reach out to him or her today. You'll be glad you did.

Michael Smith is the corporate director of communications at Acts Retirement-Life Communities.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes guest columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.


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