"This is unprecedented."
"We are in the new normal because we are in uncertain times."
"They are also trying times when you can only go to work if you're essential and there is a toilet paper shortage!"
Okay, there you are. I got all of the current catchwords out; you won't hear them again. Did I miss one?
Let's talk about something extremely pleasant instead.
Our older generation. Seniors. Grandpa. Grandma. The elderly.
I'm very serious.
Yes, of course, you know as well as I do that you should respect your seniors more than someone your age or younger because they are more experienced and have been around longer. It is true. But you also know that we shouldn't only respect them because they are your elders, but because, well, they are human.
Many older people must believe they have become undetectable as humans in our current society (which can sometimes be obsessed with being young). I'll bet it is easy to fear being sidelined.
For example, it must be challenging to have an excellent idea for a difficult situation, but your opinion may not even be asked for simply because of your age. More than half of over-65s feel restricted and ignored. More than 4 in 10 were unable to recall the last time someone asked their opinion on important matters.
If you have a teenager, you know what it's like (and how it feels) when you KNOW the right answer, but your ideas are blown off because you're just "mom" or "daaaaaad." Can you imagine that is how older adults feel most of the time? They are the parents of the world, put aside in a big living room full of "teenagers!"
For heaven's sake, they built the comforts and aids younger Americans take for granted. It should not behove us to treat our elders with respect, even if their bodies or minds are beginning to fail them.
At the global level, people of 80+ years of age took off in 1950 -- from 0.6% (15 million) to around 1.6% (110 million) in 2011, and it was anticipated to reach 4% (400 million) by 2050 (more stats here). Unless ...
HOW TO HELP PEOPLE
I know a lot of us are concerned about our older adults right now in insert-your-own-climate-catch-phrase-here, especially in light of their health. And it's hard to know how to help.
Need a fantastic idea? Don't know HOW to help people right now? Let's talk about how you can be a helpful person, be extremely useful, and even go on a "mission trip" today.
Have you heard of it?
Love for the Elderly
Motivated by the passing of his grandpa when he was 10, he discovered early on what grief felt like as that relative was quite a role model in his young life. He lamented about how the inspirational gentleman would no longer be there to give him famous judgment about "not shaking hands like a dead fish," to go on weekly strolls through their neighbourhood park or to observe holidays with him. This loss would also mean he wouldn't attend his marriage ceremony, get to play with his future children, or hug him ever again.
Jacob felt what he called "a seismic ripple" in the jigsaw puzzle of his life, missing a crucial piece of who he is as a human being. Unlike the parts to those scattered board games in the den, he wouldn't be able to find this piece ever again no matter how vigorously he looked.
As Jacob continued to grieve intensely, instead of covering himself up with the effects of a profound loss, the young boy realized he needed to do something about it instead. He wanted to do something that mattered.
So he did.
Jacob thought of what he could do to touch the lives of the elderly, a group which he felt could benefit considerably from extra tender, loving-kindness. From this small idea, Love for the Elderly was born.
Fast forward to today. His non-profit operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (founded in 2013) with a straightforward mission. If you would like to know how nonprofit organizations work or make money, Love for the Elderly is a good example. Please read further at the link, but to sum it up, it's only from your donation of time, letters, or finance. But for them, what they "make" or "get out of this" is very simply bringing joy into the lives of the aged.
"Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days."
Job 12:12, ESV
Jacob originated this idea by merely drafting and sending a few letters to a senior centre, and then very quickly some folks like you joined in his mission of love! Love for the Elderly inspires others to "connect with their elders and bridge pre-existing age barriers through their projects." And YES, he would love to have you on-board their journey of kindness, being an example of how we can serve others. Especially right now!
Why is Serving People NOW So Important?
"Show respect to the aged;
honour the presence of an elder;
fear your God. I am God."
Leviticus 19:32, MSG
Why is it important to respect your elders?
According to The Health Resources & Services Administration, the physical health impacts of isolation are equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Jacob concurred saying that, "it's obvious that being socially isolated is not good for us. We might have to social distance, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel alone."
Yes, of course, you should respect your seniors more than someone your age or younger because they are more experienced and have been around longer. That is true. But you shouldn't only respect them because they are your elders, but because, well, they are human too.
Younger people tend to forget that. I am not exactly pushing daisies, but I'm not a "youth" and I certainly tend to forget that! But at Love for the Elderly, they genuinely believe that anyone can make a difference, and as he says, "everyone should try!"
So. I'm going to try.
In April, Love for the Elderly sent out 11,886 letters of love to elders who were alone in 192 long-term care facilities. The team at LftE values each letter so very, very much. The fight to keep us all connected isn't over, is it?
THE BEST MISSION TRIP
How about you? Why not try right now? From penning a letter to a senior for a worthy cause to using your spare change by just donating, there's so much you can do to make a difference and show your love for a remarkable generation.
Since you may be interested in missions (because you're on this website), I wanted YOU to consider this as we currently have no idea how long the travel ban will last.
Possibly you have found yourself asking, How on earth CAN you do missions this summer? Well, Love for the Elderly is one fantastic way.
Through their initiatives, Love for the Elderly has brought blessing to tens of thousands of seniors across the globe, stimulating and exciting people to give back to their elders in over 60 countries and six continents.
This organisation also has tremendous plans for integrating technology and letter-writing too, and the idea is to create a (very safe) app to connect them easily to others. Besides getting letters, they may receive an encouraging message via technology, safe and friendly ones, from someone they do not know.
In a recent interview with The Scripture Scout, Jacob shared, "We've seen so many people embrace our elders from afar during a time when it's needed most. Even a handwritten letter of love can brighten someone's day, and love is so important right now."
Jacob also stated that amid COVID-19, they're collecting handwritten and virtual letters of love for senior communities to send love -- and do it one letter at a time. He continued, and as previously mentioned, "In April, we sent out over 11,000 letters of love! We’re also in need of donations during this critical time."
Talk about a mission. This is what non-profit means. You don't get anything material or financial for yourself but the peace of knowing you enriched another life. And made them feel less alone.
LEARNING FROM A NON-PROFIT (& my 'Pop')
If you ever want to know how to start a nonprofit, Jacob Cramer, who did it as a young teen, is an excellent resource. He and his team do everything from distribution, to organization, to non-profit accounting.
As I mentioned, I was very blessed to be able to do a live online interview with him and want so much to share it with you, but ... as I it appeared as though the recording was downloading afterwards, it didn't. And it was gone.
After much teeth-gnashing, I decided to chalk it up to this lesson I learned from one of MY favourite old dudes, my Pop, who was never overcome by pain and difficulties because he carried with him the wisdom and strength for going on with plans, going on with projects, and going on with living. No matter what. I often need to remember that when things don't go quite the way I planned.
This is something Jacob learned at an early age and those efforts and caring initiative are making a difference across the globe.
What have you learned from the older generation that has made a difference in your life or how you view things? One thing I learned was the regrouping and re-purposing my content is always better than giving up.
Although my wonderful interview with Jacob did not work out for you to see it (since it apparently doesn't exist now), I will share with you his recent interview with Emmy Award-winning Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV's longest-serving Anchor/Reporter in station history).
For Jacob: Hopefully we can ALL celebrate Letter to an Elder Day on February 26 next year (while wishing your grandmother another very happy birthday)! I didn't know your grandfather, but I have the notion that he would agree that this verse is about people like you:
"Grandchildren are the crown of the aged ... "
Not sure how to help right now? Get out a pen and paper. Need to know which nonprofit you should donate to? Check out Love for the Elderly. Can't go on a mission trip this summer? Make one to your mailbox.
Be inspired. Encourage someone who is in their last stages of life. Change the current catch-phrase-words from this time in your history from "unprecedented" to "inspirational."
Choose which kindness mission you'd like share
through Love for the Elderly:
These sources also answer questions such as
"How do I address a letter to a resident of a nursing home?",
"How can I volunteer at my elderly home?"
and even, "What do I write to older people?"