Just Thinking– Old People

Dr. Ray Augenstein

RayAugustienGeorge Vonce, Bass singer for the Cathedrals quartet, Used to poke fun at his singing partner Glen Payne, after which he would say, “I love old people”. George was older than Glen, and it always elicited a laugh.  Old people we will always have them with us, in spite of the fact that some of them refuse to age gracefully.  I remember an old man who lived near us when I was a kid. He liked to join in with the men in our neighborhood who had put together a ball team. He was a pitcher, and I guess he didn’t know that he was old because he threw the ball like he was a 20 year old.  Of course my perception of old may have been skewered due to my tender youth.

Age is a perception, either by the one who is old, or the one who is looking at the old person. I remember a lady in North Carolina, who sat on the front porch of her house chewing tobacco, and barking out orders to her brood.  I thought she was older than anyone I had ever met.  I found out later that she was only in her 50’s but to a 13 year old kid, 50 is old.

As a counselor and Minister, I came to realize that not everyone in the senior years of life is old. Seniors want to be respected and listened to.  I saw firsthand how some of the children of these seniors, refuse to believe that their parents or grandparents, have any brain matter left once they start drawing social security. They are treated like children, belittled, put down, intimidated, and hollered at. Just because a body gets feeble, and it gets harder to get around doesn’t mean that the person is ready to be locked in a nursing home. Many times when an older citizen becomes crotchety and stubborn, it is because no one will listen to them. They are tuned out, excluded from decisions, and treated like children. All respect is taken away from them.

I know a senior citizen, whose son would yell at him and make him feel like his brain had turned to mush. The father soon gave up and would set morosely in his chair, and at times it looked like tears were running down his cheek. The man was 90 years old, and still could hold an intelligent conversation. Until he was in his late 80’s, he would mow lawn for his senior 60 and 70 year old neighbors.

A young lad sat at the feet of his elderly grandfather one evening, and listened intently to stories that the elderly gentleman wove about his past history.  The young man later relayed some of the stories to his parents, who were astonished that the Grandfather had remembered so clearly the scenes of the past so correctly.  Also it was discovered at a later encounter, that he had the solution to a problem that had been concerning the young man’s father.  It seemed that the elderly Gentleman was not as senile as the family liked to think he was. Just because he was confined to a wheel chair, and needed assistance to move about, his brain and mental acuity was just as sharp as before his disability.

Dr. Raymond Augenstein PhD.  was born in Michigan. He served in the US.Navy as a yeoman attached to the CID. He attended Bible college in California after military service, became a Pastor, Evangelist and Gospel recording artist. He continued studies to become a  licensed counselor and earned a  Doctorate Degree from The University of Michigan, after retiring from 42 years in the ministry. He is the former Supervisor of Hayes Township.

Let’s give our seniors a chance, let’s not write them off because they need a helping hand. Let’s glean from their storehouse of wisdom, and show them the respect they earned.

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