Aging is an inevitable process for everyone.
Taiwan has officially become an aging society, with the elderly population over the age of 65 exceeding 16% of the total population. Out of this 16%, more than a million elderly are living alone.
With children leaving their hometowns to pursue their dreams, they rarely have the opportunity to accompany their elders at home. In addition to leading inconvenienced daily lives, the loneliness of old age is one of the biggest worries for the elderly.
This year, our Taiwan team partnered with the Eden Foundation to spend an afternoon having fun with seniors who are living alone. With our team living a life that requires speed and efficiency, having the opportunity to slow down and experience the purity and beauty of keeping someone company can be therapeutic too.
From overwhelmed to enthusiastic interaction
Interacting with a stranger who is 50 years apart in age can be a challenge both for the elderly and for ourselves. At the start of the afternoon, our team was still a little unfamiliar and overwhelmed, but they worked hard to find topics to chat in their non-fluent Taiwanese.
When the atmosphere gradually became livelier and warmer, we started hearing laughter across the various groups, and the elders were more open in sharing their life stories.
Led by the Eden Foundation, the team played simple interactive games with the elders. “Visually Impaired Experience” was an activity where the team put on special glasses and had to cut newspapers, so that they could experience the inconvenience of life after a person’s vision deteriorates. Another activity, Wheelchair Experience, was for the team to practice how to correctly push a wheelchair for the elderly, and the elderly played a throwing game whilst sitting on the wheelchair.
Throughout the activities, the elders were amused by the team’s awkward movements, and they also instructed our colleagues on how to complete various tasks. Through these interesting interactive mini-games, we were able to form stronger bonds and build greater familiarity with the elderly, chat and laugh with them, and many even forgot what age they were!
Warm and sincere thanks
“I miss my grandma so much,” “I want to go back now to see my grandpa and grandma!” In the process of interacting with the elderly, the team also thought of their grandparents at home and realized that just a simple act of accompanying a person can bring so much joy. At the end of the afternoon, the elders took our hands and said: “Thank you very much for coming.” Many colleagues started tearing and it was an indescribable feeling. The team carefully escorted the elders into the car, and when we saw them returning home with smiles on their faces, everyone felt warmer and richer in their hearts from this experience.
After participating in the activity in-person, I realized that this is not just an activity to accompany the elders, but we are also beneficiaries at the highest spiritual level. I am very grateful to be able to complete this meaningful activity with everyone, and realize that in the days to come, I will cherish the time with my family more.