In celebration and honoring Older American’s Month we have created 3 different ways for caregivers to acknowledge the Older Americans in their lives both personally and professionally. They are through my personal story, listing of The Caregiver Hour Radio Shows for May and local events.
From my childhood memories I have small, but meaningful experiences with Older Americans beginning when I was a fifth grader in school. I vividly remember my mother driving late at night from Miami Beach, FL to Chicago to see my grandfather in a hospital bed before he died. In her self-determined rebellious nature she disregarded the evening hospital ‘no children under the age of 16’ visitation rule by sneaking my brother and me up the backstairs of the hospital past their curfew. We felt giddy breaking the rules because our own mother was giving us permission to do so. Wasn’t this out of the norm?
Once we reached the right floor we quietly opened the door to the hallway only to see our mother carrying out the plot as she was distracting the staff at the nurse’s station next to our grandfather’s room. In order to keep the whole scheme going smoothly, she dramatically spread open her dark colored winter coat and held it up as if she was Lady Dracula making a grand entrance into a ballroom. This magical shield allowed us to crouch behind her and remain undetected by any hospital staff member. My mother’s cleverness and true grit allowed us to say goodbye to our Pop Pop Dave. To our delight we made it safely in the room and no one asked us to leave. Perhaps they understood that we deserved to be there for this important moment in our lives.
Years later as an adult and Assisted Living Marketing Director and Executive Director, I was fortunate to spend an abundance of time with Older Americans who became residents at Freedom Inn at Countryside and Freedom Inn at Tarpon Springs in the Tampa Bay area. I felt that the universe had granted me this special time to hear their life stories and learn from their richly filled unique experiences as a teacher, a soldier, a nurse, a family person, an adventurer, a spouse and a spy. Their personalized sage became gifts on how to live my life authentically.
My mother is not alive today, but her characteristics of determination, cleverness and finesse were benchmarks for many Older Americans who lived during wartime, raised good families and left behind legacies. It will be interesting to see how many of us today or in the future graciously accept the term Older Americans to describe ourselves; like our forefathers.