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The Softer Side of Caring for Chaldean Elders
By Latifa Seeba :: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 :: 88688 Views :: Living & Lifestyle, Community & Culture

Who are the elders in your family? The obvious answer is that they are your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and eldest cousins -- basically, any relative who's getting up in years. But that doesn't really answer the question, does it? In a Chaldean family, there is a big difference between being elderly and being an elder.

Chaldean Elders are the people we respect and turn to for answers and perspective, thanks to their many years of life. Most of all, they are the people who raised you and your loved ones and helped you grow into the people you are. For several decades, they carried the burden of caring for your family and leading it to better times. Now it's your turn to dote on them. Ensuring the welfare of our elders should come as naturally to us as raising our children.

Unfortunately, too many people take their parents' and grandparents' ability to care for themselves for granted. Even so, you should make sure your loved ones are taken care of no matter where they live, and try to look after any seniors living alone in your neighborhood, too. Taking responsibility for the venerable elders in our society is an imperative we all should heed. It's the mark of a decent, caring Chaldean.

There are two parts to nurturing our Chaldean elders. The one we focus on most is caring for their material needs -- making sure they have safe homes, food to eat, and good doctors to tend to them. This is complicated and important stuff that requires serious effort -- so much so that we often neglect the other aspect of caring for elders: tending to their hearts and souls. Here are some suggestions for the softer side of Chaldean elder care.

Treat every older person in your life with utter respect. Despite the toll age can take on health, appearance, and manner, inside every individual is a vibrant, powerful personality. Remember to love and laugh with the elderly without condescension -- and without restraint!

A component of respect is being understanding and forgiving of their faults. Yes, they've told you the same story 183 times. Yes, their favorite pastime may seem to be gossip. Yes, they can be incessantly critical of you, your friends, technology, the weather, or the price of tomatoes. And yes, with love, patience, and cleverness, you can change the subject and bring out the best in them.

Alone or with your children, take your parents', grandparents', or elderly neighbors' oral history. Each person has a story, and older generations have faced challenges most of us have never had to consider.  Coming to America to immigration stories and hard-won successes, take the time to get to know the Chaldean elders in your life as they have, without a doubt, had a direct or indirect impact on your life.

Include them in your life whenever you can. You can visit, call and talk to them on the phone, take them to church, grocery shopping, out to lunch, or out on a picnic.  Yes, it may mean more work for you, but remember all the times they did extra work to accommodate you and your family when you were a child?

Acknowledge their fears and frailties and when you can, step in to assist. For example, be their spokesperson when they are concerned with something important to them.  Gently offer to help with gardening, cleaning, or driving them around town. 

No gift can measure to the time you will spend sharing your gratitude and appreciation to your Chaldean elder.