A volunteer at work told me a story about her part-time job.
She was watering plants and watching all the teenagers walk around, chatting and not really doing anything. She suggested that they come help her do some watering, trying to get them to do their jobs.
"I'll help you sweetie," one 19-year-old said, patting her on the shoulder.
Smoke started coming from my volunteer's ears.
This teenager thought she was being nice, offering to help an older woman. But this woman isn't an invalid. She is completely capable and wasn't asking for help because she couldn't do something. She felt completely old and patronized at that moment.
How often do we treat older people like they are "special" only to really treat them like they are useless?
I think it's so important than we respect our elders and treat them like they are valuable, contributing members of society instead of like they are on their way out and really just an inconvenience.
The pastor this Sunday also addressed this issue, saying we are to respect our fathers and mothers, and this isn't just applying to children. This is often applying to how we treat our parents as they age. He is taking care of his ailing father, and people praise him for it.
"That's just what you're supposed to do," he said, with a confused look on your face.
We are supposed to take care of our parents with respect and honor, not like they are an inconvenience. And that goes beyond our parents and our grandparents to all elderly we encounter. These are important people with important experiences and important lessons to teach.
They are valuable.
Treat them as such.