Imam al-Sadiq (a.s) said “An example of honoring Allah (may His majesty be glorified) is by honoring the elderly.”(1)
For a moment one should think that one day they most likely will reach this point in their life where they go through these harsh feelings and would hate it if someone showed them disrespect above all that they are going through.
It has been reported that The Prophet (pbuh) stated “If a young man shows respect to an old man on account of his old age Allah will create for him at his old age someone who will show him respect too.”(2)
Some examples of respecting the elderly are:
• Take care of the elderly and avoid sending them to a nursing or old age home. They hate to be treated like this. It is like treating them like an old useless antic or old animal you do not want. Just imagine how they would feel, left out of the family, they started being taken care of by a stranger who is only there for money.
• Visit the elders in your family if they are living far, or spend time with them if they are nearby. It is a great way of respecting the elderly in your family and making them feel loved and cared for.
• Remain compassionate and polite even if your attempts to engage with elders are met with anger, gruffness, or annoyance. Perhaps they have experienced years of pain, frustration, and intolerance in society and from people who used them as a means to their own prosperity.
• Be patient and tolerant with elders. They may become a little difficult to be around, because they are frustrated being dependent on others.
• Never talk disrespectfully to an elder. Talk directly to them, not around or about them.
• If you see an elderly person not able to manage on their own in the street or market area, or anywhere – accompany them till they permit you to leave.
Different cultures would have different ways of respecting the elderly, so a lot depends on how and what works your end.
1. Al-Kafi v2 p658
2. The Revival of the Religious Sciences v2 p241