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Merry Christmas Eve-Eve! For this week’s Feel Good Friday, I am still focused on our elders and what they bring to us in terms of the wisdom of years, resiliency, and connection to the generations that have gone before us. This article highlights what we can bring to them, especially during this holiday season.
Studies over the last two decades have shown that loneliness increases the risks of mental, emotional, and physical ailments. A 50 percent increase in Alzheimer’s disease has been documented, as well as a 29 percent increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke. Loneliness also may increase the risk of viral infections, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. The pandemic lockdowns, along with an aging Baby Boomer population have highlighted the need for ways to encourage and facilitate connection with people over 65, and sometimes younger.
This is why faith communities are so important. For those who have no family, or have lost family, it provides a multigenerational connection and built-in community.
Jumbo, a Netherlands-based grocery chain has decided to use the checkout aisle as a means to help the elderly stay incorporated into the community. The over 700-store chain introduced Kletskassa in 2019. The word translates to “chat checkout,” a special lane for customers who are not in a rush and want to have a conversation with their cashier.
From My Modern Met:
Jumbo introduced these “slow lanes” back in summer 2019 as part of a wider initiative called One Against Loneliness, launched by the Dutch government. According to Statistics Netherlands, 1.3 million people in the Netherlands are over 75, and 33% have reported feeling at least moderately lonely. The first Kletskassa opened in the town of Vlijmen, in the province of North Brabant. The response was so positive that the company made plans to create 200 of these lanes across the country. On top of that, Jumbo stores also introduced a “chat corner,” where local residents can gather for a cup of coffee and a little conversation.
This is a country that cares about its elders and looks for proactive ways to engage them, rather than ferret them away in nursing homes or find ways to euthanize them.
But, I digress….
Some ways that I have adjusted to those around me who are older is to slow down, observe, and take the time. If I see elders who are walking, I give them wide berth, because I understand it is easier for me to adjust my gait than for them. If I see an elder struggling in a lane or a grocery aisle, I ask if they need assistance. And more importantly, if they engage me in conversation, at the very least I respond with a smile and a comment back, and at the very most, I slow down to listen and engage them back. The human connection that our betters sought to destroy during the COVID nonsense needs to be strengthened and rebuilt, so in my own small way, I seek to do my part to ensure the elders are seen and acknowledged for their importance to the fabric of our society.
I hope you find ways to engage, incorporate, and acknowledge those elders in your life and community during this holiday season. Here are my sincerest wishes for a Merry Christmas!
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