Our Elders and their needs . . .

The majority of children are encouraged to listen to and respect their Elders and these same Elders respect their children as they grow or flourish to find their own footing or plant their root on the world, just as they are there to encourage the youngsters to go forward with confidence and are always there when their confidence weakens sometimes due to the many negative experiences that life undoubtedly heads in their direction.

If we take a rough average on how many years our Elders take this massive role on, it must total up to about about 50 - this, we think you will all agree, is more than 50% of our lives and indeed of their lives - a very long time. 

However, unfortunately, it's often only once these Elders have passed away or until we have our own children or nieces and nephews that we realise how much time these amazing relations have dedicated to us. 

However, as our Elders get older, and as the world takes a hold of us in its' own way, we often forget about our Elders 'core' needs, which can, after all only be for, on average, 15 years, which is nothing in comparison with the 50 - 75 that they have spent on us. 

No matter the arguments, discussions or fall outs that have gone by and hopefully considered as 'water under the bridge', in many foreign Countries children care for, house and make sure their Elders needs are met till their last day. Although this happens in this Country to a degree there are many Older people  who are not that fit to go out therefore have little or no mental stimulation and some feel their walls are shrinking in on them. Some feel they are a hindrance to their families so choose, for their families sake, to keep their distance, but when, in their heart of hearts they miss their families so, so much. However, all this bravery on their part, can result in a massive loss in confidence as well as mental issues.

Don't forget our older relations had a life before their children came along - so ask some general questions, not all in the one go though, otherwise they will wonder what you are up to!

For the future contentment of our respected Elders can we ask you to perhaps consider asking, at the right time, some or all of the following questions -

0 What's their first childhood memory?
1 What was school like?
2 Who was their best friend?
3 What was their favourite subject?
4 What did they do after school?

5 Did they have to go abroad because of the war?
6 What hobbies did they have ?
7 What hobbies do they wish they had taken up when they were younger?
8 What was their favourite sport or sports player?

9 What year in their life can they remember the most?
10 What was their favourite music?
11 Did they used to play any musical instrument if so what kind?

12 Where did they used to go on holiday? What was the best holiday they ever had? 
13 Where was their favourite place to go and visit?
14 What did they used to do when they were there?

15 What was their favourite sweety when they were a child?
16 What was their favourite meal as a child and then as an adult?
17 What was their favourite pudding or cheese?

18 What was their favourite Season as a child?
19 What is their favourite Season now?

20 Can they remember the name of the most beautiful garden they have ever seen?
21 What's the name of their favourite flowers/bulbs?

22 Did they have a pet when they were a child?
23 If so what kind?
24 If they had a dog where did they like to walk it/them?
25 What is their most favourite animal, that they might not have been able to keep?
26 What was the most enjoyable thing about keeping their pet?

27 What was the first car they ever drove?
28 What was the first car they ever owned?

29 What was the most exhilarating thing they ever did?
30 What year can they best remember? 

31 What was their most scariest moment?  

32 What family event can they best remember?
33 Who was their favourite Aunt or Uncle and why?
34 Who was their favourite Grandparent and why? 

36 What was the funniest Memory they have of their children?
37 What was their proudest moment? 

38 Do they prefer the Seascapes or Landscapes? 

There are thousands of more questions and many more can be initiated from the above mentioned but each and every answer can and does play a very important role as some of our Older relations and friends start to fail in health. Each one of the answers given can be a key to unlock their Silent world and allow them to feel part of Society or family life again. Let's face it, as parents they always made sure we were occupied with something didn't they and so why shouldn't we do the same for them.

We have heard many people say, "Yes, I go and visit Mum or Dad, or Auntie or Uncle Such and Such, but trying to get away home again is a night mare, because they always bring up a conversation just as we are about to leave". Yes, this is a kind of an unintentional ploy on the Older Person's part, because they don't want to go back in to their lonely house or flat on their own. So, they hold on to a topic till the last gasp or at least until you are about to start the engine of your car.

Perhaps instead of just saying, well, we must go now, why not leave them with something positive to look at, like pictures or photographs, that they haven't seen for a while or pop their favourite music on perhaps about ten minutes before you leave or a DVD with some of their bygone photographs or films on it - this will give them hours of enjoyment.

We have also often suggested that family Members give the Carer of your relative or the Care Company or Hospital/Nursing home a similar list to the above so that common ground can be found between both.

In the event that you have different carers going in to care for your relative can we also suggest that a one or two lined diary is kept so that each Member of the family or close friend who visits knows what the Elderly person has been doing - this is a good half way house communication point even if your relative can't verbally remember what they did the day before. It also stops any duplication of activities unless, which does happen in some cases, the Elderly person can only cope with duplication or repetitiveness.

Above all, the most important thing for our Older relatives is to try hard to accept and appreciate them as they are today and not as the person they used to be or as the person YOU wish to remember them as, although, for many, this can be an extremely difficult thing to do . . . we don't like the feeling of letting go of the individuals who were so strong in our lives, just as some of our Elders often don't like the way our paths change us  - but they usually always show acceptance and their love for us no matter what hurt has gone under the bridge. We should learn from their wisdom and not from what we think is right.

Above all, spend as much time with them as you can, because although you might not think it at the time, you will miss them once they have gone and possibly even regret not having spent time with them but by that time it will be too late.

Make room in your life to enjoy them just as they have surely given you years of their time.

Further info that might help: go to this  POST

More on this topic will follow shortly.

During August and September we are going to be involved with a few Events in the Scottish Borders relating to our respective Elders and will forward details in due course. 

In the meantime if you have or know an elderly person who is 'locked in' either mentally or physically and have been unable to ask any of the questions we have suggested we have another way of communicating with them, which can unlock their key, so please, which every way, consider them perhaps a little more than you do at present, give them a chance to be happy again, even just for half an hour a day, apart from anything else it will give them something to look forward to. Remember, they gave us life and have taught us much of what we know today. 

On behalf of many thank you for reading this page.  


  1. Hi. Judi.
    While visiting my Mum yesterday I asked her some questions about her childhood. This started a conversation that lasted a while. I was there more than an hour longer than I normally am and my Mum really seemed to enjoy telling me things from her past. Each thing she told me would lead into another story. We usually just talk about family stuff or her carers, so it made a nice change and I know my mother enjoyed it.... Thanks for the idea, I'm always in such a hurry while visiting but from now on I'm going to take more time..


  2. Awe, how lovely for her, and of course for you it will have given you an extra connection that you will never ever forget . . . often we leave it till it's too late before we say something . . . . but in this case, you clearly haven't - how so pleased I am for your Mum, on her behalf, and silently I would like to thank you for giving her this new lease of her life . . . thank you so, so much. Would you mind if I copy and pasted your comment on to the blog - I would be happy to leave your name anonymous or at least just use your first name - I'll leave it up to you to decide . . . or if you wish, you could type a comment at the end of the blog . . . once again, thank you so much and please, do pass this latest, humbling, experience of your on, so that other older individuals can feel the same . . . wonderful, one more person who feels part of the world again, and who, i am sure will go to bed reliving her past . . . THANK YOU

  3. I don't mind if you paste my comment to your blog. Also you could use my name. I'm going to talk much more to my Mum from now on. X