Question: Some old people are suspicious and easily fuss over careless words. Thus it is difficult to deal or communicate with them. How should we handle this?
Dharma Master Cheng Yen replied: Senior citizens tend to behave like children. We need to treat them with love and patience like children. Someone suggested that I build a senior home for old people, but I would rather promote “day care.”
For example, the “Senior Services” in the Tzu Chi hospital provides day care to the aged parents of double income spouses. The whole family can still get together at night after work. I sincerely hope everyone looks after their old parents and gives them the warmth of a family get-together. These family get-togethers also educate their children so a virtuous family ethics can be passed down.
An attitude of appreciation and respect
Question: Sometimes the way elders think and do things may be old-fashioned. Do we need to tolerate them like we do children?
Dharma Master Cheng Yen replied: Things change too fast in our times. Oftentimes elder’s values cannot keep up and yet they believe that they are always right because they are parents. However, it doesn’t matter how frustrated we are, we should not complain. Instead, we should play down the differences and try to gain their understanding.
People in my generation still respected and listen their elders. However, this current generation expects their elders to compromise over everything, making it very difficult for the elderly. Regardless, I think we should respect and appreciate old people. Without their perennial contributions, our current affluent communities wouldn’t have been possible.”
Getting old is not a terrible thing
Question: Sluggish movements, constant pains from illness, not being able to do everything you want… All the symptoms of aging just sound horrible.
Dharma Master Cheng Yen replied: Don’t be afraid, but be aware that one day we will get old. If we mistreat our parents, it serves as an example for our children to follow when we get old. Either way, good or bad family traditions and ethics are formed through learning from our older generation and from passing down to our next.
Source: “Life and death with peace of mind” book
Translated by Leonard Lam
Edited by Jenner Yeh, Meiping Yang