Through the years of working with people in various care settings, I have always been aware of how most older adults identify as patriotic. It’s a common experience to see them singing along with “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land.” And, they almost always place their hands on their hearts and stand out of respect, even those who have limited mobility. I have always been extremely inspired by their allegiance to the flag, but also curious about their motivations behind this behavior.
According to AARP’s interviews with 608 men and women, 74 percent of those age 50+ say they’re extremely or very patriotic, compared to 60 percent of those age 35 to 49 and 32 percent of those age 18 to 34. This is an interesting trend and implies that older adults will likely respond to patriotism and celebrate patriotic holidays with fervor and emotion.
If we take a look at the time when most of this population was being raised, the reason for the intense feelings comes to light. The call for protecting our freedoms was shared by everyone during World War II, and people were heavily invested in the war effort, whether that meant serving in the military, working in factories and shipyards to produce war supplies, creating a victory garden, or just holding down the fort at home.
Having some context helps us relate to the life experiences of most of our clients and indicates how we can use patriotic music and conversation points about the “good old days” to establish more focused and connected relationships.
We can also appreciate the freedoms we have because of their efforts, letting them know how grateful we are. When we show gratitude to the people in our care, we can reach them on a deeper level.
Use this knowledge and make the effort to connect. The respect you show will help to make caring for your clients so much more rewarding and fun.