What Older Folks Have Taught Me

I’ve spent the last five plus years doing marketing for a beautiful senior living community. Its halls are the final home to some of the finest people on planet Earth. On Monday, I began a new job that won’t have me around seniors every day.

During the last five years, I have learned so many valuable lessons from my elders. Here are just a few.

  1. This is not Georgia… just another funny old lady.

    A Sense of Humor is a Must.

I learned this from a Resident we’ll call Georgia (I’m changing her name for the sake of HIPAA, OK?). For over a year, every morning when I walked into work, she would greet me by telling me my hair looked crappy. But that’s part of the joy of being older – you don’t have to have a filter anymore!

Even though her sense of humor is a little odd, I’ve come to love Georgia dearly. She makes fun of those she loves.

Thanks to Georgia and the others who have taught me to more freely laugh at myself… and others, in an appropriate way.

  1. Old folks know how to dress!

    Appearance is Important.

The Greatest Generation … they may be the last generation that truly dressed up. Think about it. People barely dress up to go to work anymore. Just compare the way flight attendants dressed 50 years ago and the way they dress today. People don’t dress up like they used to.

I’m not saying we should spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on our outward appearance, because life really is all about developing your relationship with the Lord and your character. But the thing is, if you’re 30 now and you’re having a tough time looking good … imagine what it will be like when you’re 90.

Your body is a temple, according to the Bible. I see people in their 90’s who look like they’re in their 70’s, and people in their 70’s who look like they’re in their 90’s. You can do things today that will help you look your best when you’re elderly – exercise, eat a healthy diet, and avoid smoking and drinking.

Oh, and why not dress up a little? I’ve learned through the fancy ladies in their 90’s who wear adorable suits and jewelry to put a little extra effort into my appearance. Because if they’re still worth it at 95, then I’m also worth it.

  1. Your attitude is a culmination of your daily choices.
Do you want to be a Maxine or a Betty White?

This is the greatest lesson I’ve learned the past five years. I’ve realized that there are two types of old folks: They’re either super mean or super nice. Basically, they’re either a Maxine or a Betty White.

So what determines if someone will turn out to be super mean or super nice when they’re in the final chapter of their lives?

Daily decisions.

It’s refusing to become depressed even when your dear friends all die.

It’s finding hobbies you enjoy doing and doing them.

It’s separating yourself from people who drain the life out of you.

Grouchiness doesn’t happen overnight. You know that crotchety old neighbor from your childhood? He didn’t get that way in a day. He decided over a lifetime to allow negativity to get the best of him.

So thank you to the super nice, but also to the super grouchy elderly who have taught me this valuable lesson. I will continue trying to make decisions each day that will result in me being the kind of sweet old lady that younger ladies look at and say, “I want to be like her when I’m old.”

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