Katie Cheesman has always had a heart for the elderly. As an adult, she’s worked with this special population in her nursing career, and has seen firsthand just how vital they are to our society and how much we can learn from their life experiences and wisdom.

She’s witnessed that many of these sweet individuals just want someone to sit and talk with, but that need is often overlooked due to busy schedules. “I can provide all of the medication and treatments in the world, but what they really want is someone to listen,” explains Katie.

That realization sparked an idea for what she refers to as her calling. Katie’s mission is to be a listening ear for the elderly. She wants to help share their incredible stories with others and to remind the world just how special they are. To make good on this, she spends countless hours meeting with and interviewing seniors. “In a society where they are often forgotten, I want to let them know that they matter, that they have a voice and that their words are valuable.”

If you’re like us, this may just be the moment where you’re thinking about a loved one or neighbor who fits into this category. So here’s our challenge to you: find an elderly grandparent, neighbor or friend and pay them a visit. By lending a listening ear, you may just be surprised to find out that you are both impacted for the better.

Here are a few of Katie’s favorite things to do with elderly friends:

  • Find out what their hobby is and do it with them.
  • Bake them a treat.
  • Ask them what their favorite film was from childhood and surprise them with a movie night.
  • Offer to do yard work or help with odd jobs.
  • Go on a walk with them, if they are able to.
  • Visit with them and ask questions about their life.
  • Ask if they need any help around the house.
  • Offer to help with transportation if they are home bound.
  • Invite them over for—everyone loves a good home-cooked meal!
  • Bring them a plant that they can care for.
  • If you have a special talent, share it with them! For example: Hairdressing, music, organizing, etc.

Have other ideas for fun and unique ways to spend time with the elderly? We’d love to hear them! Drop us a note in the comments below.

About Katie

If you want to see cute old people and hear rad stories, follow along with Katie’s work on Instagram @thelisteningearproject or at thelisteningearproject.com.