International Day of Older Persons: How Cultures Around the World CelebrateBrandermill Woods independent living angle

International Day of Older Persons: How Cultures Around the World Celebrate

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October is an important time of year—after all, the month’s very first day marks the International Day of Older Persons. This United Nations-designated global awareness day has a different theme each year. In 2018, the occasion honored seniors championing justice and human rights. For 2019, the theme is “The Journey to Age Equality,” highlighting both the progress humans have already made and the need for continued efforts to ensure that seniors are treated with dignity and respect as they age.

At Brandermill Woods in Midlothian, we’re committed to celebrating older adults every day of the year, and we provide as many opportunities as possible for our residents to take an active part in the Richmond community and beyond. In addition to reminding us of our shared goals, the International Day of Older Persons also gives us a chance to learn from the ways various cultures celebrate their elders. Read on for more information on how some cultures maintain and strengthen the ties between older and younger generations.

For Native Americans: Preserving History Through Storytelling

While the Native American oral tradition continues to exist today, modern technology makes it possible to tell stories indirectly and to do so with a large group of people at once. Historically, however, younger generations of Native Americans learned tribal history, crucial life lessons, and enduring legends straight from the lips of their elders.

Passed down from generation to generation, these powerful narratives helped to preserve Native American languages and customs. They also cemented a cultural tradition of honoring the speech of the elderly as both wise and important. Today, Native American cultures maintain that tradition of passing on knowledge and cultural values from older to younger generations by using storytelling as an art form. Elders craft their stories to encourage a sense of unity and interconnectedness between the present and the past.

For Greeks: Passing on Names to Grandchildren

Elders in Greece often play a prominent role in the lives of their grandchildren. From the day they are born, children are often linked to a long lineage of people who share their name. The vast majority of Greeks claim membership in the Greek Orthodox Church, and it’s common for children to be named after saints from religious texts, just like their parents and grandparents were before them.

But these saints aren’t chosen at random! To make sure family names live on, it’s common in Greece for first-born girls and boys to share the same name as their grandmother and grandfather. Orthodox Greeks may even skip celebrating the day of their actual birth to observe their namesake saint’s celebration day instead. Thus, these “name day” celebrations tie elders to their grandchildren and reinforce strong cultural traditions that honor the links between young and old.

For Indians: Having the Final Word

Though patterns are changing as India modernizes, Indian elders traditionally live with their children their entire adult lives, caring for their grandchildren while the adult children work. In turn, those adult children often care for their elderly parents in the same household. Inevitably, these close family bonds lead to a hierarchy in which grandparents play a key role in settling conflicts between their children, their grandchildren, and others.

From resolving family disputes to giving advice on financial investments, Indian families have traditionally placed a high value on the wisdom that comes with age. It’s that strong cultural touchstone that gives Indian elders the last say in most things, and it’s the link that guides younger generations in everything from matters of the heart to business.

Brandermill Woods: Celebrating Older Adults 365 Days a Year

Brandermill Woods works hard to honor our residents by creating a comfortable and inclusive senior living community year-round. Our compassionate staff treats each resident with dignity and provides skilled care that promotes health and wellness on a daily basis. From an action-packed social calendar to exceptional dining, Brandermill Woods celebrates the value that seniors have to offer by helping them live life to the fullest. Visit us today to learn how we’re redefining retirement in the Chesterfield, Richmond, and Midlothian areas of Virginia.