Our first African-American president will take the oath of office tomorrow in front of an audience that will include many seniors who can remember segragation and their grandparent's stories about slavery.
One of my dearest friends is African American and another is Chinese American and I cannot even imagine not having the opportunity to interact with other cultures or being segragated from someone of another race. But today is also Martin Luther King day to remind us that it has taken much work to create opportunities for those from all backgrounds in this country.
It is also a reminder to us of the different viewpoints a senior may have because of the era that they lived in. One of the biggest challenges for senior caregivers is to try to connect with the senior in a way that understands the senior's viewpoints and needs. Sometimes it is very difficult for a younger caregiver to understand that a senior is not comfortable with their style of dress or jewelry or language - but when we take the time to think that we all go with what we know based on our environment and then think about the environment someone was in 50 years ago, we can better understand where they are coming from. And then we can try to connect to them with sensitivity towards their thinking.
One of the greatest assets President-elect Barack Obama brings to the White House, according to those who know him well, is his ability to listen and connect with people from all walks of life and from all viewpoints. This is definitely a skill we all need when dealing with someone much older or much younger than we are - I am sure in addition to his many other skills, President-elect Obama would also be a stellar caregiver!