AGEISM: Ignoring the old

Be sure to read the end of this post. Recently, I read an article that was a plea for more respect and recognition of old people. I’m one of those “old people” and I see examples of ageism far too often.

The article says…

Why do people think so poorly of old people?

 There was a movie a few years ago called Nebraska. Bruce Dern was playing an old man who thought he won the lottery and convinced his son to go to Nebraska with him to reclaim his prize. Of course, there was no prize to speak of, just the fleeting illusion of a hopeful soul. On his journey to Nebraska, he tries to reconnect with his estranged son and the two try to reach a place of understanding toward each other.

The movie does a fairly good job of revealing some challenges that old people face.

Old people are more vulnerable not just physically but mentally. Whether they suffer from dementia or not, their learning curve for new things is steeper and they struggle to find or keep their place in an ever-changing world. They struggle with new technology and the crazy pace that the world today. They yearn for the old ways and how things used to be while they find that their internal model of how society works is no longer available.

It’s harder for them to connect with younger people. A lot of older people seem to yearn for attention and love and some understanding from younger people. By attempting to win the affection of the younger generation, the gap widens even more. The more you try to get close to someone while being dependent and skeptical of your own value as a human, the more distant you become.

Yearning for the past
Another aspect worth considering is that many suppressed feelings and memories come bubble back up to the surface in old people. Old people are like a temporary deposit of events that take the shape of glimpses and images of old times but also many emotions lie dormant within and cannot wait to be awakened. Likely one can never get over something completely. As long as the memory of an event is there, the event lives within you.

Rich past evaporated
The inner lives of old people are so rich with stories, sometimes pleasant, often frustrating. Some people take care of those inner lives, to ensure they have their own peace of mind. Others leave their feelings suppressed, allowing anger towards old friends and foes to build up. Some reflect on the past and try to make amends (like the old man in All about Schmidt), while others are forever condemned to live imaginary or real lives of conflict and battle, us versus them, me vs. the others.

Rich potential ignored
The old may be a mother lode of valuable inspiration with their mine of wisdom gleaned from years of living. Unfortunately ignored. Many of them need our help and our love. Again ignored. 

A disservice?
Be reminded, with good luck we too will walk in those shoes someday. Does it not seem appropriate that we pay them some respect and recognition for who they are and what they have done for our society?

Sadly, this interesting plea falls on deaf ears. Society is busy living life of the self-interested, first, foremost and solely.

But take a look at this “old” teacher…over 100 and still teaching: OLD TEACHERS

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