Elders are the sincerest form of wisdom. They have lived through hardships and good fortunes. They teach us to look at things in a deeper meaning rather than a superficial one. Interviewing my grandma, who is an immigrant from Vietnam, has changed my ways of how I view certain aspects of aging.
Themes that emerged while interviewing my grandma were remaining true to yourself in hard situations, be an empathic person and learn when to sacrifice.
She told me that the most important thing in life is being able to remain true to yourself and knowing when to say no. She told me that when she first arrived in Canada, she felt pressured to assimilate to Canadian customs, but she realized that she could have both by saying no and adopting what aspects of Canadian custom she wanted to. This relates back to because I am the type of person that always agrees and rarely says no even if I do not necessarily agree with it. When I get older, I do not want to be in the Erikson's ego integrity vs. despair stage and realize that I did not live a meaningful life and do not have anything that I am proud of.
My grandma who has been married for 60 years says that being an empathic person allows you to have a successful and lasting relationship whether romantic or platonic. There has also been a study that shows there are cardiovascular benefits to living an empathic life. With the advice my grandma gave and the research I have found to back up being empathic, it has changed my views on older adults. Older adults are empathic people and that is one of their secrets to a lasting relationship.
Learning when and how to sacrifice provides benefits in the long run. My grandma says it was hard for her to leave Vietnam when she did because she felt like she was leaving everything and everyone behind to start a new life. But now she says she is glad that she did because she is living a better-quality life than she would have if she stayed in Vietnam. Because my grandma made the sacrifice, she is able to live a longer life due to the medical advances and economic developments in Canada. In turn, it has allowed myself and my relatives to live a healthy life and it has provided us with many opportunities that we would not have if we were in Vietnam.
This assignment has taught me a lot about myself and my biases I have towards older adults, and it has given me the opportunity to connect with grandma in a way that I would never have.