Forget Me Not: Practicing patience with our elderly population

— Patience is difficult to practice in our fast-paced society. I often hear conversations about how the elderly drive too slow or how senior citizens take too long telling stories.

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Noelle Leavitt Riley

Since I became involved in catering to the elderly population through the Forget Me Not mission — letting seniors know they’re not forgotten by society — I force myself to have patience and understanding with elders.

Have you ever sat down with your grandparents and it took forever for them to tell a story or get to the point? What about the stories that you’ve heard over and over again?

I know that it might be more beneficial to us if we could speed things up or stop them in the middle of retelling a story we’ve already heard, but I wonder how that makes them feel.

I think it’s important to remember that when we age, our memory, speech and health slow down. We have no idea how we’re going to change with age, so perhaps we should give our senior citizens the benefit of doing things at their own pace.

Perhaps we should let them drive, move and talk slowly.

I absolutely love going out to eat with my Grandpa Bob, yet I get extremely frustrated when restaurant servers don’t give him a couple of extra minutes to give his food order.

It takes him more time than most to order his meal, and he’s soft spoken. I often want to rip the pen out of servers’ hands when they show signs of frustration or impatience while my grandpa is ordering his food. I know they might be busy, but show respect. He deserves it.

When I was leaving the grocery store the other day (the day before Thanksgiving — a super busy and hectic day), an elderly woman was in front of me, trying to put money into her wallet before she exited the store. She was blocking the door, but I just stood patiently as she fumbled with her purse and wallet.

At first, I wanted to be impatient, but then I realized that her hands probably don’t work as well as mine and that it takes her more time to do a simple task such as dealing with coins and paper money.

So I politely waited for her to finish, and then she very slowly proceeded to exit the store. I slowly walked behind her, giving myself a silent pat on the back for practicing patience.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on the way, I hope we all can remain humble and patient with our elders.

Let’s remember what the holiday spirit is all about and show love and respect to one another. Let’s try to keep the frustration levels low with our older parents and grandparents. Let’s allow them tell their stories again and again. Let’s allow them to drive slow and move slow.

After all, we’re all going to be old one day. How do we want to be treated when we get to that age?

Noelle Leavitt Riley is the managing editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. She and her husband run the Forget Me Not Foundation, where they take donated flowers to seniors to let them know they are not forgotten by society. She can be reached at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

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