May 15 to June 15 is the Go Turquoise 4 the Elderly campaign, ending in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
In the past, the elderly were valued for their accumulated wisdom, appreciated for the sacrifices they had made, cared for and cherished. But today many children live far from their grandparents and see little of them in their full lives, or come to prioritise computer games and other activities above family time. If you want to be treated with respect and appreciation yourself someday, make sure that your children show it to the elderly from the start.
Be a role model
Treat your own parents and all elderly people with courtesy, respect, and compassion, from street people to pensioners in shopping queues, says Andries Pretorius, director and chairperson of Rata Social Services (a registered welfare organisation).
Offer help when you see it’s needed
Whether it's in the form of guiding them across a street, getting something down off a high shelf, or helping them open a jar. Encourage your children to do the same, and when they do, praise them warmly – tell them how proud you are of them.
Express your affection and admiration for your parents
Particularly in the presence of your children – give hugs freely, say “I love you” often.
Tell your children stories about your parents and your childhood, and show them photographs if you have them.
Explain the effects of existing medical conditions
If your parents have medical conditions, explain these to your children, and how brave they are to smile through them; or if they are sometimes difficult, explain that this could be the reason granny or grandpa is a bit grumpy, says Pretorius.
Celebrate milestones in your parents’ lives
Whether birthdays or anniversaries, and encourage your children to make cards or prepare a song, dance or cake for them.
Look for common interests
Find interests your children and their grandparents have in common, whether baking or watching soccer or a favourite TV show, and create opportunities for them to do these together.
Enforce an attitude of respect
If you ever catch children being less than respectful, call them out on it immediately when you’re alone with them; don’t let it slide and become a habit. If the elderly person is not polite in return, teach children to continue showing respect anyway – they don’t know what the elderly person may be going through; in any case, it makes them a better person.
Teaching children to value the elderly
If there’s a retirement home in your area, volunteer there when you can, even if it’s just serving occasionally in a soup kitchen; take your children with you and involve them. You can’t teach your children a more valuable lesson than to value others – especially the elderly.
For more about Go Turquoise 4 the Elderly, visit https://goturquoise.co.za.