Thursday, 12 January 2012

Not a child

I blame Shakespeare. Do you remember the Seven ages of man?

Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

In some ways he has a point but older people aren't children-not Biblically nor even by the standards of English law. But the second childhood idea has got into our thinking. Older people unnecessarily have decisions made for them, are called dear, given cups with straws or even given soft toys to hold.

So how should we consider older people, even those with cognitive impairment?

The Bible says that parents are to be honoured.

Honour thy father and thy mother.
Ephesians 5v2

It doesn't leave out those with cognitive impairment or even those who can't make their own decisions.

How can we honour such people? By treating them with dignity, helping them make decisions where possible and honouring the memory of their healthier years.  Further than this, they should be honoured just because that is God's command.

Honouring the memory of their healthier years is particularly important for grandchildren who may have no memory of the grandparent as a healthy active individual. Grandchildren can be told about what their grandparents were like, what they said, happy memories and what they were like as parents. Photographs and anecdotes can help, both for the grandchildren and helping the older person remember.

It doesn't necessarily mean taking over all the care oneself. That may be the right and honouring thing to do but it may not, if that care is more than can be provided in a respectful and high standard manner.

See more about caring at Caring takes time.


  1. Hi Sarah, thanks for linking up! I agree with you that older people and those cognitively impaired should be treated with respect and dignity. I once worked for a few days at a care home with Alzheimer's patients, and was furious when one of them was physically pushed down into her seat when she got up after having got up a lot already. Unfortunately I was there with an agency so couldn't really say anything.

  2. I agree with you that we need to give more respect and dignity to older people, including those with cognitive impairment. When I worked as a care assistant I was furious one time when a careworker physically pushed a resident with Alzheimer's back into her chair when she kept getting up. Pro 16:31 'The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.' Thank you for linking up!

  3. Excellent thoughts, it's about time that honouring was instigated again and it's going to take hard work; but let's be clear to realise it is needed between all people for society to ever value it again.
    Glad to have found you
    Emma at LLM Calling

  4. Apologies for the late posting of your comments-we have had some internet problems. Hopefully back to normal now.