11 things I learnt from my 97 year old nursing home patients (3 minute read)

Three 90 year olds in one room represent over 270 years of life experience! It seems silly not to ask a few questions and seek out a life lesson or two.

With all of my older wiser patients, I have been asking them, “What life lesson can you teach me that I don’t have to wait 90 years to learn?” Wisdom ensued. These are my top 11.


LESSON 1

“Tell each other that you love them every day…and plenty of hugs and kisses.” – still holding hands after 48 years of marriage

A great reminder that long lasting love is an active process.


LESSON 2

“Learn from your mistakes.” – an 87 year old who has made “stacks” of mistakes

Upon reflection, she was grateful for the friendships she formed and the skills she developed as a result of these “mistakes”.


LESSON 3 

“Never go to bed mad. Always kiss and make up.” – a 58 year (and counting) marriage

Maybe if we extend this lesson to include family, friends and even acquaintances (minus the kissing #prisontime), the world would be a little less…well you know.


LESSON 4

“We always disagree…men often think differently to women…but it’s important to realise that they are just opinions. Neither are “right” or “wrong” and in fact, it doesn’t matter.” – the hand holders from Lesson 1

“It doesn’t matter”.


LESSON 5

“Money is a fleeting thing.” – an 85 year old man who has seen money come and go

Interestingly, this was the only time money was even mentioned. Food for thought.


LESSON 6 

“Be enthusiastic.” – An 88 year old famous yachtsmen

Enthusiasm led this man to build his own lake and spend his life teaching children how to sail.


LESSON 7

Be kind and always try to help” – A 94 year old ex-nurse who has seen it all

After seeing this angel of a lady sitting next to her slowly dying friend and stroking her hand while she slept, I now know what a life time of compassion and service can look like. #takenoteshumanbeings


LESSON 8

“Be kind to your family.” – potentially German (forgot to ask) 86 year old lady

There are certain people that have been there from day 0; they deserve a lifetime of respect, gratitude and support.


LESSON 9

 “Be honest.” – a beautiful [dying] 88 year old angel who just wanted to have a drink of wine with her Grandson

She was honest with me. I was honest with her. What a beautiful way to communicate.


LESSON 10

“Don’t get worked up over little things and don’t listen to other people” – an 87 year old lady after she had fallen and broke her leg

What if everything that we get worked up about is a “little thing”.


LESSON 11

“Eat well, don’t eat too much garbage and stay active” – a 93 year old superhero who still loves a good walk

As a champion of prevention over cure, I felt a strong urge to hug this lady but I held myself back because I am too pretty for prison.


As a way of generating better answers, I have been experimenting with the type of questions that I ask. Asking my older patients for life advice at the end of a consult has been a fascinating experience. Consider this blog post an invitation to all my readers to play around with the questions that you ask.

If you want to connect, share ideas and achieve world domination, feel free to email me directly on inchbyinchlifestyle@gmail.com.

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BKTY (Be Kind To Yourself) and BKTO (Be Kind To Others)  – in that order.

Dr G