Each and every year, during Chongyang Festival, citizens of China celebrate the elders in their families and communities. It’s a special tradition which is rooted in the deep value that Chinese culture places on honouring their elders.

Sadly, many of our aging population are seniors without sons, daughters or grandchildren to visit. While they may have great friends, they no doubt miss the tender and loving relationships unique to families. To fill this void, many volunteers turned up on October 28 at nursing homes around the country in order to spend time with the residents. In some cases, they performed humble gestures of kindness, such as combing their hair or washing their feet.

While the kind acts were appreciated, one embarrassing story out of Anhui province raised a valuable question. Reportedly, one old gentleman had his feet washed seven times during the day by different volunteers. Is this genuinely caring for the elderly? Many of the residents at the home said that those gestures do not make them feel cared for at all. Their family members or community volunteers may drop by for a few hours of token time, but soon they disappear back into their busy lives.

There is nothing we can give that is more valuable or appreciated than our time. While you may feel like there is barely enough time to care for your many responsibilities, might it be possible to spare just a moment as you walk home from school to sit with a senior who lives in your community? Just five minutes is not going to prevent you from getting your homework done, but it may totally change a day of loneliness into a day of joy for one old man or woman. Do you live far from your grandparents? Why not pick up the phone and let them know you’re thinking of them? Or maybe you could remind them of the “good old days” and mail them a short letter. Imagine their surprise and joy!

We live in a complicated and busy world, but kindness and caring is still a very simple thing.


Which gestures can make elders feel cared for ?

A Had his feet washed seven times during the day

B To sit with a senior who lives in your community