I was browsing the other night, and came across this post from Vikki's Blog, The Red Chair Gallery. It is an interesting post about those elderly people we see around us all the time. How often do we take the time to find out "what their story is". You will have to go read her blog to know exactly what I mean.
I can remember from my "previous life", which is how I now refer to my time as a police officer in a small town, when I would get calls to respond to "unusual" or "unknown" problems. Mostly they were at the homes of elderly residents. Dispatch simply did not want to air for all to hear, that so and so needed her fridge filter changed or something to that extent. Doesn't quite sound like a law enforcement issue does it.
I came to find out that it was part of my "duties" as a small town cop. Many of our elderly simply wanted someone to talk to for a few minutes, so they would come up with what ever reason they thought would work. They could be very insistent, and demanding to the dispatcher. I began visiting some of them on a regular basis to save dispatch from receiving these unusual calls, for the dispatcher had no idea how to handle them.
I came to find out that most of them did not need the help, or even want to be looked upon as "needy". They simply wanted someone to talk to, some form of companionship. They were mostly the folks that could not get around any more, and had become prisoners in their own home. At the same time they did not want to be placed in any type of assisted living. Many had no family left to care for them, and friends had slowly died off.
What I discovered back then was that everybody I talked to seemed to think that some one else was taking care of them. I constantly got the "I thought the Senior coalition did that" or something like it. The problem was that when these seniors became home bound, and dropped off the social map, I don't want to say they were forgotten, but in a way they were. People still were aware of them, and knew them, they just thought there was family taking care of them or someone else. Therefore most people made no effort to offer help or companionship.
These seniors were full of fun and interesting stories of times past. The experiences they had and willingly related, when given time, were amazing to say the least. I found that if I came in and sat down to ask how their day or week had been, their face would light up. Pretty soon they started telling me stories of times past, some I was hard pressed to believe. There was one man that had ridden into the country on horseback when he was sixteen with a "six-shooter" on his hip. He had some wonderful stories of the area back then. And told me of having to cut chunks of ice from the river for shipment to Denver where it would stored in an ice house. I could not even imagine life with out a refrigerator, yet he had lived it.
I guess what I'm saying is look around, see if there are any of the elderly who just need a little companionship, and someone to tell their stories to. They may not ask for help, or want help, just companionship. Make friends and wait, sooner or later they will tell you stories both true and amazing. And just enjoy the companionship for what it gives them.