Natural disasters have the ability to grab our attention instantly as we witness their brutal effects often reported in real time on television news. The devastation, the fear, the loss caused by floods, fires and other natural disasters all have a way of shaking our souls and sometimes changing our lives, even when we are not directly affected.

How can something so awful bring out something good? The good comes from feeling and seeing the honor that comes from serving others in difficult times. We cherish the altruism of good old-fashioned “regular folk” who show unselfish concern for the welfare of others.

People worldwide are watching the Northern California wildfires and the devastation they are causing. Though the fires are now being contained, the devastation is vast. Do you wonder: “What if it were me experiencing this reality? How would I find honor in serving others through this difficult time?”

I find honor in the local and state disaster professionals there as they lead the fight in extinguishing those fires and helping victims. The service recovery teams, the police officers, Red Cross volunteers, hospital and other medical staff have risked their own lives as they worked to save and treat others.

I also think of those who are helping their neighbors and of those who are volunteering, even though they are not personally affected by the fires. They are to be honored.

As a skilled nursing home administrator responsible for serving seniors, my concern goes immediately to the seniors who live in Northern California. Like in any community, some in the areas of the fires still reside independently at home, some with family and some in senior care facilities. They are the people who raised families, taught children, policed neighborhoods, made gadgets, built cars, designed bridges, cleaned our businesses, fought for our country, treated our wounds, righted our wrongs. I can’t even begin to capture the honor those seniors have earned serving others through difficult times of earlier years.

Honor comes from serving others through a difficult time. As a healthcare speaker, I am called to honor and inspire healthcare professionals and bring attention to isolation within the senior community. What a week they have faced!

I thank and honor the dietary teams, nurse aides, charge nurses and unit managers. I thank the laundry and housekeeping professionals, maintenance teams, activity professionals, social service, office and admissions staff. I want to thank the home health and hospice professionals who ran to the opportunity to serve. I also thank all of the family members of those that serve for I’m certain this has been a tough week for them, too.

I pray this article brings attention to the senior communities of our world and the service professionals that serve these communities. They deserve our honor.
I challenge each reader to put “eyes and hearts” on a senior this month. Sit down, engage and have a conversation. Honor them with your attention as I honor you for making time.

Jerald Cosey, HFA, is a senior healthcare leader and professional speaker. He currently serves as executive director of Greenwood Meadows, a skilled nursing community operated by American Senior Communities, serving 166 residents on the southside of Indianapolis, IN. Visit his website at www.jeraldcosey.com.

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