Aging Parents and Memorial Day 2014

  MEMORIAL DAY–MONDAY MAY 26, 2014

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Can we look into the hearts of old people?

Things change. Values change–both at a rapid rate. It’s part of today’s world and we deal with it. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the impact on our elders as we continue with our busy lives. A one-minute video, with no spoken words, looks into the heart of a WWII veteran.

In the old days the name, Memorial Day, and date, May 30th, were carved in stone– or so I thought when I was a girl. I didn’t know that before WWII Memorial Day had been called “Decoration Day,” although I remember hearing that name. The 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed “carved-in-stone” dates to days that would allow for a 3-day holiday weekend and took effect in 1971.

We’re accustomed to the 3-day weekends. We take the opportunity to get away for a short vacation. Some think Memorial Day is the start of summer. We have family picnics. There are fewer parades. In our hearts and minds we respect the holiday, see the flags flying, know “Fleet Week” has arrived in New York. But, unless we have family in the military, I doubt we can tap into what Memorial Day means to those who have served–especially those who served over a half century ago, still possessing the memories (told and untold) and the pride.

While that which old people hold dear is disappearing faster and faster, it remains in their hearts. I want to try to remember that as I interact with the elders in my life. Most of us won’t have that special commonality we see between grandfather and grandson in the aforementioned video. We have not experienced their experience.

That said, whether our older family members and friends are enjoying a family picnic, lying in a bed at home or in a care center, Memorial Day offers another chance to bring them pleasure, a chance to enhance their sense of self-worth by showing an interest in their past or asking about Decoration Day.

And for us, we may gather some wisdom and learn some history (possibly priceless family history), while doing our part to help parents and our elders age well. Another win-win!

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana. The Life of Reason, Vol 1.

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

 

 

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