Interacting with the elderly is exciting and knowledgeable as the interaction also has several positive impacts. Thus, interaction with the elderly leads to acquiring of knowledge. One important thing about the elderly is that they are great teachers whose narratives leave a mark on the listeners’ minds. Life lessons, coping skills, ethics, cultural knowledge, and memories are some of the impacts of engaging in conversations with older people.
This paper is a reflection of an interview I had with one older woman who I will give an alias name of Clara. She is a seventy-year-old woman with lots of stories to tell. In this paper, I will reflect on the meaningful memories of the woman, the values, life lessons, and coping skills I acquired. Additionally, how ethics and diversity influenced her openness to me, an analysis of demographics, culture, stereotypes about age, and cohort differences.
My interviewee was a seventy-year-old woman whom I will give an alias name of Clara. The interview revolved around aging experience and the questions were; 1) How her childhood was like, 2) how Clara felt when she realized she was becoming old, 3) how she could describe the aging experience, is it good or is it wrong, 4) what challenges do the elderly in the society face in respect to stereotypes about age, 5) her message to the young people.
I still remember many things that Clara said but one imperative memory that found meaning is what she answered about the question of advice to young people. She responded that young people should be careful in how they consume their time. She said that time is the most crucial gift a young person can have. In this case, time to do constructive things.
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Clara urged young people who are still energetic and can work to use time preciously, and constructively as the things they do now will reflect their aging life afterwards. She recalled how she wasted her time in her twenties and thirties, and the more she recalled, the more tears rolled from her eyes. It is a memory to me as what she said found meaning in my mind. I understood that time is precious and should be used constructively.
Philosophy of Life Adopted from the Relationship
Out of my relationship with Clara, I developed one philosophy towards life; that life is about taking in and taking out. When I asked her about her childhood life, she said throughout her childhood; her parents would always advise on being generous. The generosity, she said, later paid off powerfully. Being generous is about giving out what you have to others who do not have. Taking in is about receiving what you do not have from people who have. Before interacting with Clara, I believed in the power of giving; however, I had always viewed accepting other people’s things as a way of showing I am poor while I thought I am not. Nevertheless, when Clara talked about receiving because one does not have but because of instilling a sense of humanity and appreciation in the giver’s heart, I was convinced that receiving is also kind.
Life Lessons learned
I learnt a significantly good number of life lessons; however, I will explain three that I found more pleasing. One life lesson is not losing oneself, trying to please others. Clara recalled how she tried pleasing all her three boyfriends when she was a teenager. “I wanted to make all of them happy, even though I only loved one. The results were that even the one I loved when he learned I have another guy left me. All of the three left me, and I lost the most loving person, up to now, I have ever come across.” Clara narrated. It came to my senses that I can never please everyone, and this lesson applies across all disciplines of life.
Secondly, I learned to always work hard in anything I do. In close to all questions, Clara included the value of working hard. She stressed on working hard and smart while one is young and energetic. She described it as a way of investing in the future so that when one age, they do not struggle to meet their needs, or they do not over depend on their family members or society.
Thirdly, I learned that money is not the solution. Clara talked about establishing good relationships with people to live a happy life. Throughout the conversations, she gave many examples of how money cannot solve everything and that some things require more than money. It is an important life lesson as it tries to show that money is good, but other things like friendships and being ethical surpass the value of money.
I learned plenty of life coping skills from Clara. She explained how throughout her life, she has been dealing with problems, and I derived some essential skills. They include; asking for help/support when engulfed with significant issues, to follow my dreams, creating a to-do list is crucial, in case a situation seems to be a burden it is advisable to walk away from it. Furthermore, to avoid running out of time and doing nothing, learning how to manage time will solve the problem. Lastly, studying to acquire knowledge will always solve plenty of issues as no situation is unique; people have gone through hardships and offered solutions in books and the internet.
How Ethics and Diversity Influenced her Openness
From the very first instance, I met Clara, I assured her of behaving ethically and protecting her identity. Clara was contented with that. Due to this, she felt confident to talk to me and outpoured all that she had throughout the interview. I discovered that Clara came from a different ethnic community from mine, and therefore, I made sure I approached her according to her cultural and ethnic beliefs. It made her identify my personality as diverse across cultures and that I appreciated her culture; thus, she was free and open in responding.
Analysis of Course Concepts
Older people have significantly increased in recent years. Today, one out of three people in America is fifty plus years. It is estimated that by 2030, one out of five Americans will be sixty-five plus years (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). Also, studies show that the number of people above sixty-five years will soon outnumber those of children. The demographics show that older people are increasing.
Varying cultures alter the way the elderly approaches their aging. Different ethnic communities present different cultures that influence activities that take place when an individual is aging. For instance, in Clara’s case, her ethnic community valued time and hard work. The culture of investing in time made her aging process pleasant because she was contented she had used her time well. Therefore, culture is a significant influencer of the process of aging.
Stereotypes about Aging
Stereotypes about aged people are evident as reflected by what people say about them. Some of the stereotypes are; an aged person is feeble. It is a stereotype because as I mentioned earlier, Clara was still energetic. Secondly is that older people do not know how to use technology (Hummert, 2011). On the contrary, Clara talked about seeking assistance from the internet as a coping skill, showing she understands technology. Thirdly, that older people do not engage in sex, and lastly, they are financially unstable. It is a stereotype because as Clara said, she is enjoying investments she made when she was young.
Cohort Differences between them and us
It relates to the differences between the aged and us, the younger generation. Older people do not like an adventurous life while young people wish for an adventurous one. As seen from Clara, she was only talking about working hard without incorporating having fun. The elderly are experienced in life, unlike us. They have more to tell about life than we can. Also, older adults are for saving and investing, whereas young people are for trying anything new in the market. Clara stressed more on investing with money rather than using it to buy unnecessary things. Lastly, older people’s immunity to fight diseases is low while those of young people is higher (Jagger et al., 2007)
The paper has alluded that interaction with the elderly leads to acquiring of knowledge. Knowledge ranging from life lessons, coping skills, and values is vital in the life cycle of any individual. The most stressed point throughout the paper is aging while happy, and this comes about by making the right decisions while young such as hard work and great friendships as Clara explained. Furthermore, lessons such as maintaining one’s worthiness by not trying to please everybody, working hard, and knowing that money is not the solution to everything are some essential points to note. In general, life is about making the right decisions, giving and receiving, knowing how to solve problems, investing, and establishing good relationships with people.
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Hummert, M. (2011). Age Stereotypes and Aging. Handbook Of The Psychology Of Aging, 249-262. DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-12-380882-0.00016-4
Jagger, C., Matthews, R., Matthews, F., Spiers, N., Nickson, J., & Paykel, E. et al. (2007). Cohort differences in disease and disability in the young-old: findings from the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC-CFAS). BMC Public Health, 7(1). DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-7-156
U.S Cencus Bureau. (, 2019). By 2030, All Baby Boomers Will Be Age 65 or Older. Retrieved 21 October 2020, from https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/12/by-2030-all-baby-boomers-will-be-age-65-or-older.html