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Selfies and Elder Care: What Doesn’t Fit Here?

BY Sarah Reinhard

| Posted 11/20/13 at 11:29 AM

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On the one hand, I read that “selfie is officially the 2013 word of the year.”

Fending off competition like ‘twerk’, ‘bitcoin’, and ‘binge-watch’ — all good words! — selfie won out because of its huge surge in usage over the past twelve months. In fact, Oxford Dictionaries editors claim the use of the word has increased by a jaw dropping 17,000 percent since this time last year.

And on the other hand, there’s this:

Pope Francis went on to lament how nowadays we live in times when the elderly don’t count. It’s unpleasant to say it, but the elderly are put to one side because they are considered a nuisance. However, the Pope continued, old people are those who tell us the history of things, who carry forward the faith and give it to us to inherit.

[…]

The Pope went on to say that a society that does not take care for and respect the elderly does not have a future because it doesn’t have memories. We would do well, he continued, to spare a thought for the many old people living in homes for the aged and, it’s unpleasant to say, for those who have been abandoned by their families. They are the treasure of our society.

Recently, I’ve had some elder care issues crop up with my own loved ones. Our parish has also started a monthly ministry of going to our local nursing home/assisted living home to visit and share crafts and pumpkins and songs. In these two experiences, I’ve seen something that reminds me of why I care: these old people are beautiful.

They’re sometimes hard to understand, or grouchy, or distant. They are, in fact, reminiscent of the children in my home, but full of wisdom and experience that I can’t help but value.

These are people who have seen more change in their lifetime than I can wrap my head around: my 85-year-old grandmother was raised in the country with no vehicle. Her family had horses because they needed them for transportation. And she has more good advice about saving money and being frugal than anyone I know. Living through the depression will do that for you.

So will I pose for another selfie or share a part of myself with the person down the road?