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HORIZON BLOG

The Elderly Only Talk About Their Health

 

Question

"Why do older people talk about their health so much? It seems that when they gather the conversation revolves around their surgeries, aches, and pains. Does anyone really want to hear about their issues or look at their scars? 

I do not want to have an instant replay of their surgical experience as though they just climbed a mountain and are telling that story. That would be a story I want to hear about if someone had actually done something cool. Instead, it is one illness or procedure after another. 

Another thing the elderly think is that every subject is fair game. Go ahead and talk about your bowels or your wound.  It’s okay, we don’t mind. Yes, we do mind. No one under 60 is interested in your gall bladder or hip surgery. 

My encounters with the elderly are not enjoyable to say the least. How do I get them to focus less on self and more on the world around them?

 

Answer

I am not sure that what you are seeking is a possibility. People do tend to focus on what is going on in their world and when a person is sick or in pain that world can shrink significantly and quickly.

Surgeries are intimidating and can be all consuming for older adults. Much like childbirth for new mothers, they talk about it. Go ahead and ask a new mother shortly after the birth of her first child about her delivery and you are likely to get quite a bit more information than you want to hear. Spend time with new parents and you will quickly tire of the baby talk, friends without children wondering what happened to their friend not that they are a parent. 

People talk about what is going on in their lives. We all do this related to the stage in life that we are currently at. You are clearly at a different place in life and would rather talk about events that interest you or that you are involved in. You are typical. We all enjoy being around people that have similar interests and engage in related conversations. Being sick and having surgeries is hard to process mentally for most people. We all tend to want to replay the events and share with others.  It helps us process what happened. The elderly simply have more health issues than younger folks and they need to talk about it.  

With that said, there are people in your life who are older, a parent or grandparent who would benefit from your company, if you can clear your mind and listen with interest. Sometimes we just need to tell our story, whatever that story is. Make it an even exchange. Say, “grandpa, you tell me about your surgery, and I will tell you about my camping trip”. He might not be that interested in your trip, big game, or thesis either, but he will likely listen because he loves you. You can each learn something from each other that way and maybe your time will be better spent and more enjoyable. Have that conversation while playing cards, watching a game, or engaging in something together. Do your best to know him and try to place yourself in his position. It is time well spent and will make a difference in both your lives. 

 

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

President & CEO

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