Five Enriching Rewards for Those Who Visit the Elderly

“Is not wisdom found among the aged?
Does not long life bring understanding?”

(Job 12:12)

In this life, it takes time to get your head together. That’s why older people can be a goldmine of experience and wisdom. The problem is, once they get their head on straight, their body begins to unwind.

Nursing homes and assisted living residences are filled with heads and hearts of gold. It is worth your while to visit them. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The art work is uplifting.

I have taught art history and art appreciation at the university level. I once made a living as an artist and I am an art museum hound. So what could a common nursing home have to impress an art lover like me? Easy! The art work lining the hallways at most homes for seniors are typically more aesthetically inspiring than a visit to most any modern art museum. The framed works at such homes are usually just prints, but you can count on them being as lovely as they are sensible. One can enjoy peaceful pastoral scenes, enlightened interiors, gorgeous sunrises, mother and child compositions, boys fishing with their uncle, grandparents mentoring, ships on the high seas, outdoor scenes that inspire the soul, and much more. Nursing homes tend to find art that is not at war with beauty and truth.

2. Their Patriotism is humbling.

Signs of patriotism are everywhere at most nursing homes. The residents don’t have much but you’ll still see plenty of flags, eagle artifacts, and patriotic posters. Red, white and blue are the favorite colors. This is especially true at The Idaho State Veterans Home here in Lewiston, Idaho, where I have several friends. Grateful for our heritage and our country is apparent everywhere you go. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen an aged veteran struggle to rise to his feet from his wheelchair at a ceremony in which the flag is honored or the National Anthem is sung. All hats come off and all the words to the Anthem are known by heart—and I mean by heart!

3. Their deep appreciation is unrestrained.

Who doesn’t need that? When I bring my guitar, I achieve rock star status! When I bring my wife, it’s even better. I see her embraced with unfettered love as well.

4. Your religious liberty is respected.

At nursing homes and senior centers, you can pray, sing, and worship privately and publicly almost at will without objection. This separates nursing homes from most public schools, museums, stores, libraries, sports events, political rallies, office buildings, shopping malls, restaurants, police stations, and college campuses. Of course, every place has its own legitimate purpose. But I especially enjoy the high level religious liberty and ministry freedoms I experience at senior centers and nursing homes.

5. Your visits can draw you closer to true religion.

Of all the benefits, this one is the best. I realize the word “religion” turns off many culture-savvy Americans who seek spirituality instead, but true religion is downright honorable and biblical. The apostle James explained,

    “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27, NIV).

So, there are tremendous aesthetic, noble, rational, personal, praiseworthy and religious reasons to visit and love the elderly. Besides all that, it’s fun! Try it! Just think: you may be so blessed as to live long enough to need visitors yourself!

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