From the beginning of human society, all over the world, indigenous cultures have revered community elders. Elder advice is cherished and elder blessings are sought by youthful aspirants. Lives well lived are celebrated by the local community long after physical vigor is a distant memory.
In contrast, modern societies too often mistreat, take advantage of and neglect old people. Even family members sometimes consider old people more of a burden than a responsibility. As a result, too many of us shrink from greater society and spend our last years alone and afraid.
A couple days ago, a friend asked me a question that caused me to consider my most fervent wish for Oakmont. After thinking a bit, I realized what I hope for, more than anything else, is for all Oakmont residents to be treated as revered elders rather than old people.
We can’t control what people think of us when we leave Oakmont, either virtually or physically. When we talk with customer service representatives on the phone, email friends and family, or deal with salespeople in local businesses, we’re subject to what outsiders think of us. But wouldn’t it be nice if, inside our community, our life experience and history meant something.
Here in Oakmont, we have organizations that provide us with educational, social, cultural, spiritual and physical experiences. But something important is missing. Too many here live their lives in unwanted isolation. They feel afraid of and cast off from today’s often confusing, fast-paced world. Whether physically, cognitively, or emotional unable, they live life mostly inside their homes, often alone.
I know we can do better.
So, today, I’m introducing an idea I hope will inspire someone. I have in mind a new Oakmont club called Elder Connections. Through solicitations via the Oakmont News, email, Friday Bulletins and other means, two confidential lists will be created. The first will consist of names of “visitors” (people wanting to help those who are lonely and isolated). The second will consist of names of “elders” (people who want someone to talk to).
The club’s founder and leader would simply pair at least one person from the visitors list with one person from the elders list. Pairings may be short or long term.
Visitors may give as much time as they wish. Typical might be a single one- or two-hour
get-together per week in the home of the elder, but the club’s leader and those involved can set up any parameters they wish.
So, who out there is inspired to make a difference?
I’ll be signing up to be a visitor. I hope you’ll consider doing so too. Interested parties should email firstname.lastname@example.org.