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3 Reasons Why We Should Respect Older People

Tattoos are often seen as a form of rebellion. I suppose when I got mine at the ripe old age of 55 it could have been a sign of that.

Three reasons why you should respect your elders

Three reasons why you should respect your elders

1. You Only Realize Things as You Get Old Yourself

Respect for old people starts with really listening to them but let's face it—younger people rarely listen properly. At 63, I don't consider myself that old, but even I can see our accumulated children glazing over when my husband or I ramble on, even if we manage not to talk about the various health problems that have started to afflict us.

2. Listening Skills Are Important

The trouble is older people often repeat themselves. You may have heard the story they are telling before, many times—many, many times. And of course, older people often repeat themselves. Or did I just say that?

Seriously, it is important to try to stay engaged when old people tell you things. For one thing, it is simply basic good manners, and for another, you might just hear something to your benefit. Their retelling of their life experiences may well provide the wisdom you are seeking. "There is nothing new under the sun," as the old saying has it, and this is certainly true of emotions and life dilemmas. Someone has always been there, done that, and knitted the cardigan before you.

3. Old People Should Be Respected

And no, I don't mean just because they have managed to live a long time. Everyone should be afforded a certain degree of respect. It is, after all, the basis of civilization, although it may be that the degree of respect will vary.

While it is true that the depth of respect can be subjective and even conditional and may not necessarily seem to be the due of some elderly folk, I would argue that as compassionate beings, we should give them the benefit of the doubt, even the obnoxious ones. After all, you cannot be sure that their obnoxiousness is who they really are. The early stages of dementia can warp a previously loveable person's character out of all recognition.

Recording the Memories of the Elderly

There are two other important reasons for listening respectfully to old people besides the fact that they may have the answers for which you are looking. One is the fact that their lives are now history.

Modern life has changed out of all recognition in a very short time, and the memories of my 1950s childhood, for instance, are now a history of another way of life, a life that may seem almost unbelievable to the technology-laden youth of today. This was also true of my youth when I found it hard to take in the family stories of crushing poverty that my forebears had endured as they grew up.

Would we have learned anything about how a civilized society should be run if the survivors of two world wars and, in particular, the Holocaust, had not told their stories to someone who listened? There is usually some tantalizing nugget of information in the reminiscences of old folk from which something can be learned about the past and where we came from.

Listen—Are They Asking for Help?

The second important reason for listening to elderly people is to see if, in some oblique way, they are asking for help. Because many of our old people today are the last gasp of a proud and fiercely independent generation, they often find it difficult to ask when they need help. So this requires a careful sort of listening, a sort of "listening between the lines" if you like, a more intuitive sort of listening, and we neglect to listen carefully at our peril, for it can lead to a heavy burden of guilt.

I first became aware of this problem when my mother started to ask me if I would ever think of moving back to Yorkshire, where she was living. I had moved 400 miles away a few years earlier, and unthinkingly, I replied that I could not see myself ever moving back there. Only as her health problems got slowly worse did I realize that that question was, in fact, a cry for help. She was having difficulties, and rather than admit it and ask me outright for the help she needed, she framed it as what appeared to be a casual question.

What later convinced me of this was when I found out that she had also asked my brother the same question as he too lived many miles from her. By the time we both realized her predicament, she was having to be moved to a home suffering from the first signs of dementia. I still live with the guilt of not recognizing what she was really saying.

Have I Made You Think?

So now I'm 63, and I ache after a hard day's gardening and sometimes forget what I went upstairs to fetch but I do have concern for other people, both young and old. I try hard to respect them and to really hear what they are saying. It is the lesson that was my mother's legacy, and it is important to me. I would like it to become important to you too.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on April 28, 2016:

Angie, from the large number of responses, I gather that there is willingness to alter the way old guys are treated now a days. We shouldn't treat old people well because they're old, but because the point at they're now will be ours one day. From the point we are at now, we must look at the crest of the horizon and think of the travel those guys have made in their dawn, morning, noon and evening... and now at the twilight, we must look at them with awe that we do at the sight of sunset. We must respect them more because there will be all these faces of light in our life too. We should not respect them out of pity. We should love them as dignified and proud travellers. I'm from India and most of us shower all reverence on our elders, but modernity has marred this spirit here too. So we are also concerned as the other people are. Through this great hub, you have ignited that spirit in our hearts. I liked lovely photo of your very affable parents. Thank you very much.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on December 22, 2013:

No, Michael I did not know that. Thank you for pointing that out - it is rather reassuring to find he is just your average sociopath then.

Now I need to write in defence of babies, children, teens and adults as well. Or we all could just ignore him? Unfortunately there are a lot of folk out there who will take a message from his ranting ... the wrong message.

Michael on December 21, 2013:

You realize that the guy in the video made more than the old people video right? He has babies, children, teens, and adults are idiots as well.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 19, 2013:

Thank you too, Mike, for this perceptive comment.

If we could realise what it was like to be old before we got old perhaps we would also realise how important it was to live each and every minute as fully as possible before we got to that stage.

Mike Thuo from Nairobi Kenya on March 19, 2013:

Angie, we don't foresee ourselves getting to the same advanced age hence our diminished perception of old age as a possibility.The day age catches up, we begin to understand the importance of respecting those who aged before us. Thank you for the informative article.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 18, 2013:

@tattuwurn - many thanks for your comment, vote and share and your information about how elderly people are treated in your country.

The west could certainly learn a lot from your culture.

@ComfortB - again, thank you. It is always good to hear from another culture and I believe you are right when you say respect for older people needs to be taught at home.

All countries have some sort of societal problems … caring for one’s old people is one contentious issue in so many countries when really it should simply be a case of basic humanity.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on March 18, 2013:

It is sad that people have to be reminded to respect their elders here in this society. That just goes to tell you how far removed we are from the teachings of the bible, and from good morals.

I grew up in a culture (Nigeria) where its just the right thing to do. We respect our elders, and take good care of them. And I believe it needs to start from home. Parents teaching their children respect for others, and especially for the elderly.

Great hub. Voted up and interesting.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 18, 2013:

Thank you, shanmarie … I will keep that in mind. At present I do not know of anyone in that situation. Good luck with your research project.

Shannon Henry from Texas on March 17, 2013:

Youth are the future, but the future comes from the past. You're right, it is sad. You mentioned recording the memories of the elderly. . . that is something to especially be cherished. I'm working on a research project at the moment, trying to find stories about families dealing Alzheimer's. If you know anyone willing to participate, please let me know.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 17, 2013:

Sadly, that is a thing of the past for many families … and for many old people, shanmarie.

In an ideal world we would still embrace such old world values but now our society is youth orientated and old people are denigrated and often despised. Those of us who see things differently must be the change and work to do the best for elderly folk in our own small way.

Shannon Henry from Texas on March 17, 2013:

What you say is so true. What happened to families taking care of each other in an extended sort of fashion. When children were taught to learn from the wisdom of their grandparents and to respect all adults.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on March 17, 2013:

yes,, really sad some people do things according to their own interest.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 17, 2013:

It’s just getting everyone to work together, Paolo … sadly, it seems unlikely.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on March 17, 2013:

your welcome! i hope the issue would stop if only everybody would work together.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 17, 2013:

@PaoloJpm - thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this hub. I do hope you achieve your dream of helping older people. I am sure that all nations ignore their old people to some extent. Here in the UK most of them are at least housed in some way but we are now finding out that many of our homes for the elderly as not doing the job as respectfully as they should. I believe this problem will continue both to grow and to be an issue of contention.

@rumanasaiyed - thank you for the kind comment, the vote and the share. Much appreciated!

Yes, it is very sad that most of us only realise the problems of the elderly when we ourselves are old. Our lives are so full of ‘getting stuff’ when we are young that there is little time for really thinking what our older people need to live out their final days in the comfort most of them have earned.

Rumana from Sharjah, UAE on March 17, 2013:

Very true line "You only realize things as you get old yourself". Many a things we realize, only when we come to that stage.

Great Topic. Voted up Beautiful and Shared!!

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on March 16, 2013:

If God give me the chance to successfully achieve my dream. One of my will is to help our elderly since as I observed here in my country some are left behind in streets. I don't know where those people got those strength to left their parents or grandma/pa in streets shame on them! but great hub!

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on January 02, 2013:

I think that, sadly, what you say is very true … thank you for coming back to me on this subject.

shofarcall on January 02, 2013:

Understood. I believe what I am getting at still stands. No teaching in the schools or in most homes, of honour and love, particularly for the elderly, but for all our brothers and sisters exists any longer.

Once upon a time I too followed a Buddhist lifestyle so I mean it when I say I understand. God Bless.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on January 02, 2013:

Many thanks for taking the time to comment on this hub, shofarcall.

I do not really subscribe to the God as the Jews saw him, which may be a foolish thing to say on Hubpages with so many fundamentalist Christians writing on here.

As a Buddhist I simply believe that one should honour and respect all life and that most of humanity’s natural default is for kindness. It is only the lessons people see around them that warp some of them into something other.


shofarcall on January 02, 2013:

Hi, I am coming in late here and having read the Hub (well done Angie) and all the comments, I see the one I hope, still important reason to respect and honour our parents is that it is one of the 10 Commandments. And a very important one too. It is the first Commandment that comes with a promise. I shall leave it to anyone who is interested, to look it up. Perhaps this is part of the reason why there is such a lack of respect and dishonour today amongst our youth, because they have precious little access to the teachings of the Bible. Most of our homes are secular, even those people who may attend a church do not extend the teachings to the home and God has been voted out of our schools. Oh well.....that is my two penny's worth put into the pot. May God in His mercy, Bless us all.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 26, 2012:

I sincerely hope you are right, TT2.

Sondra Rochelle from USA on March 26, 2012:

I'd like to believe that the narrator was just one person, and does not represent the majority of our youth today. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing, but I do wonder why this guy was so horribly hostile towards the elderly. Yucchhh!!

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 26, 2012:

Hi TT2 - couldn't agree more ... I must say I only managed about a minute of his rant too.I simply couldn't believe he could be serious.

When I was young I was as self-centred and heedless of the old as the next youth but I always treated them with deference and respect when I interacted with them. It just seemed to be a natural way of behaving.

Old folk have always moaned about the young, now it seems with just cause. It's all very sad.

Sondra Rochelle from USA on March 25, 2012:

Angie: This was a great hub, but I have to tell you I could only take so much of the guy in the video. What a total loser! I wanted to punch him in the face with my cane! It turns my stomach to think that there are people out there like him who hate people just because they're old. Can't wait to see what he says when HE gets old!

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 18, 2012:

Ah yes, Sharyn ... I was hoping you would comment as I know you work with old people and I feel you are the most compassionate hubber I have met yet.

I admire the stand you take on your care of the elderly and especially in the case of Joe ... you have to be a very caring sort of person to have that sort of patience.

Bless you for your work and thank you so much for sharing your valuable viewpoint here.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on March 17, 2012:

Hi Angie ~ I love this hub! I love your two main topics here about recording memories and are they asking for help. Both are excellent points. I have much respect for the elderly as I have a deep passion for working with the older generation and helping them have the best quality of life possible. Disrespect can never be tolerated. I can only hope that I receive the same care in the future. I recently took care of a 90-year old male for a couple years. Joe would constantly repeat himself on a daily basis. I listened the same every time because I knew it was important for him to talk and share what was on his mind. And I learned a lot from him too.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 07, 2012:

@Jeannie - thanks for the vote etc. and the comment. Don't beat yourself up ... few of us listen when we're young. It's as if we actually have to experience things for ourselves before we learn the lessons.

@Sunnie - that is very kind of you. It's remembering the advice I've given that's difficult :)

@tobey - yes, but usually only with handbags and Werther's Originals ... (I take it you were talking about us oldies?)

@Buyabiz - yes, funny how that happens, isn't it?

@cclitgirl - thank you for your kind in-depth comment. I think you may have been lucky with your upbringing as it taught you compassion. So in my eyes you are exceptional ... most of the younger folks I know are totally self-obsessed, probably as the media concentrate on 'bigging them up' to get sales. As you say everything is now geared to producing stuff only for 'yoof'. Yawn!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on March 07, 2012:

Beautiful hub. I learned from a young age to respect older people - I actually grew up in a nursing home! I had a beloved woman I helped my mother care for die in my arms when I was 15. I helped her with countless patients to feed them, clothe them, and listen to their stories. I learned that I was the stupid one: they had so many life experiences to share! I learned so much from them. I sooo wish our society felt the same, but we're so obsessed with "youth" and "newness" that when things aren't "young" or "new" I think we all sometimes forget that just because someone or something is new or young, that the buck stops there. I hope your hub gets shared and re-shared because our older generation is the one who really taught me about life.

BizVT34 from USA on March 07, 2012:

The older I get the more I agree.

tobey100 from Whites Creek, Tennessee on March 07, 2012:

I've also found that many of them are heavily armed. Great hub.

Sunnie Day on March 07, 2012:

Beautiful hub with great advice.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on March 07, 2012:

This hub gives me a lot to think about. When people are younger, they never realize why anyone older than them constantly tries to give advice. Now, I realize I am an idiot and that I should have been listening all along. Oh well... better late than never!

Voted up and shared!

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 02, 2012:

Thank you, ishwaryaa22 ... you sound like the perfect granddaughter! You were both lucky ...

Ishwaryaa Dhandapani from Chennai, India on March 02, 2012:

Wonderful hub! Respecting elderly people is indeed important as not only it is a sign of good manners but also they deserve the required respect from many others. I am still in touch with my grandmother. She told me interesting stories about her birth, childhood and her family. I enjoyed listening to her stories. Also my grandmother got staunch support from her 3 daughters, 4 grandkids and 3 sons-in-law.

Thanks for SHARING. Interesting. Voted up.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 01, 2012:

Hi, techygran - many thanks for the wise (of course) comment and the vote up.

I agree with you, I am always enchanted with anyone - young or old - who shows anyone any kindnesses. And I too have been fortunate with my loving and hard-working children and am always amazed by the younger people who seem to think old people should do the decent thing and just die after having worn themselves to a husk bringing them up.

I have to disagree with you about the video rant however ... I could see no brilliance there just crass ingratitude for his own life.

Again, bless you and thanks.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on March 01, 2012:

Great hub Angie, with an overflow of wisdom and compassion. The older I get (I'm 61) the more I value everyday kindness, thoughtfulness and basic respect. I was (I am somewhat embarrassed to admit) fascinated by the rant in the video-- what a waste of brilliance! I also have to ask, "Did we bring these people up?" I am pleased to say that my own kids, 41 and 38, have never treated us to serious disrespect but I know that it is out there.

Voted you up!

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 01, 2012:

Thanks for your valuable input on this topic, debbie ... you are obviously an enlightened soul.

Debbie Roberts from Greece on March 01, 2012:

I think that all people should be given the respect they deserve, whether they are young or old. Unfortunately there are a lot of younger people around who battle to respect themselves, so probably wouldn't know how to respect older people.

Many moons ago, I worked in a small tearoom frequented by many pensioners just looking for a friendly face and a bit of company. Sometimes they lived on their own and wanted nothing more than to have someone listen to them. It was having time to listen to the elderly customers that made my job enjoyable. Sometimes they'd want to have a moan, other times a chuckle. I found that they gave me the respect I gave them even though I was just a young whipper snapper to them. At the end of the day they are interesting people with many tales to tell.

An interesting hub and shared.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 01, 2012:

WOL - what a wonderful comment! Thank you so much for stating so clearly the things I should have said! LOL, WOL.

I found it very hard to write this piece in a controlled fashion ... and I had all sorts of crossings out when it came to that video. Such restraint may lead to my early (ish) demise as something inside may rupture.

It wasn't that I had had more evidence than usual of the arrogance of youth just that I had focused on that I knew of. (Sorry about the grammar there). I always treated old people with respect, why does that no longer happen?

As a baby boomer I live below the poverty level ... I am hoping we can continue to manage on it. There are only basics, no luxuries. Like you it didn't bother me that I was paying for the older generation when I was young ... it was just a fact. Today everyone thinks they should have everything ... it simply doesn't occur to them that maybe some 'goods' are actually not needed. Having said that I feel privileged to have kids are the independent, hard-working sort who have made their own way in the world ... and I am sure there are many more like them ...

writeronline on February 29, 2012:

More worthwhile reading from you Angie, thankyou. My view is simple, (I'm 64, so I guess that's what younger people would expect anyway..) and it has to do with courtesy. That's a quality that seems to be absent from so much of what passes for 'human interaction' in today's world, no matter how old, or young, the participants. No matter what sphere of activity, from business, to world affairs, to social issues.

For me, this lack of courtesy (it's unseen, and therefore unlearned) means there's no behavioural barrier between younger people thinking old people are idiots, and not bothering to even give them a chance to prove or disprove it, before disrepectfully ignoring whatever it was they might have learned, were they not so arrogant as to believe they know everything anyway.

What burns my ass the most (down here downunder anyway) is the constantly, arrogantly, and vocally expressed belief from younger workers that "Greedy Baby Boomer pensioners are stealing our money. Don't they know how much harder it is for our generation to make ends meet than it was for theirs? They have no right to expect us to pay for them to live an easy retired life".

I've never had a sense of entitlement, but I also don't have any problem with the idea that today's workforce should contribute to(I prefer pay back) the people whose efforts over their working lives have furthered the institutions and infrastructure of the society we all share.

That's certainly how I felt during my working life. I didn't waste time bleating about how hard it was for me, because I had respect for how hard it had been for people of my parents generation. And was happy to make my contribution to their 'reward for effort'.

But that doesn't fit with the view many of today's working generation have of themselves. It's as if they think the world was just magically 'there' when they were born, fully equipped for their selfish enjoyment. Instead of them being part of a continuum of growth and development, that began thousands of years ago, and will continue long after they too grow old and die.

This ignorance means there's no basis for the respect due to those (to paraphrase you, Angie), who've been there, done that, and left the world a better place - for today's generation to continue to build.

But disrespect breeds disrespect. For instance instead of taking these cries of injustice and hardship seriously, I just think to myself, how would any of you know? You're so self-focused, I doubt you have any real knowledge of what you're criticising.

BTW, the vid.

I looked at the guy, and before he opened his mouth, I thought (but in a real life setting, would have been to courteous to say)'this guy's got fat mouthy idiot written all over him'.

However, because I'm old, and have seen guys like him before, I also knew there was no need to leap in to criticise. As us old folks have all learned, and dumbo in the vid duly demonstrated, it's always better to keep your mouth shut, and be thought an idiot, than to open it and supply proof.


Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on February 29, 2012:

Thank you for this cogent comment, Pcunix ... you have nailed it in one.

I can always rely on you for a clear-sighted and balanced view.

Tony Lawrence from SE MA on February 29, 2012:

We put people in nursing homes now for two reasons. One is the hope (sometimes naïve) that they will get better care.

The other reason is a reflection of a society that now requires everyone to work. When I was young, grandparents and even older uncles/aunts stayed with relatives because there was someone there to help them.

When my mother (who was living with us) reached a state where she needed constant care and supervision, both my wife and I were working and so were my siblings - there was no one that could take care of her. In a society where one breadwinner isn't enough, this is going to happen.

Angie Jardine (author) from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on February 29, 2012:

@diogenes - hi Bob, I can't agree that all the other cultures of the world except for the Brits and the Amerians automatically treasure their old people. There are people everywhere who do love and care for their old folk both in the UK and the USA as well as other countries.

There are also just as many people in non-Anglo countries who treat their old folks as badly as we do. There are people of mixed kindness and coldness in all countries and I am sure we would find just as much ill-treatment of the old in the family surroundings of other countries.

It is an impossible thing to determine for sure but we do have to be wary of viewing all other cultures through rose-tinted glasses just because we do not like the inadequacies of our own.

@KimberlyLake - thanks for commenting on this, Kimberly - and many thanks for the kindly votes.

@FelineProphet - bless you for your kind comment, Feline ... I guess it's just a case of us all learning to live more mindfully of each other. I don't know how we spread the message though :(

Feline Prophet on February 28, 2012:

People these days rarely have time to listen to anyone - leave alone the elderly. Thanks, Angie, for reminding us of the treasures that lie in simple courtesies. :)

Kimberly Lake from California on February 28, 2012:

Excellent food for thought. Voted up and awesome.

diogenes on February 28, 2012:

Anglos treat the aged despicably. Here and in the USA. Mexicans don't put the old into cold nursing homes, they keep them in the family to be loved and respected by all generations.

In the UK the old are invisible, much less listened to.

In China and India they are venerated and seen as wise.

No wonder half the world despises Anglos.


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