I took my mom to a doctor’s appointment a couple of weeks ago. Due to her chronic illness, she tends to forget things easily so I go in the room with her. As the doctor asked his routine questions, I noticed that he was directing many of them to me. Understand that, although my mom can be forgetful at times, she has all of her faculties intact. And while I am blessed with many of my mom’s attributes, that does not make me my mom.
At one point, on the verge of tears, she slammed her fist down and said, “Listen to me, I’m trying to tell you something!”
That’s when I realized that what my mom had been telling me for years was true – when people get older, they become invisible.
At first I was angry. Angry that this respected doctor would be so dismissive with her. I wondered if he would have been the same with a younger patient. And then I was profoundly sad. My mother deserves better. As does every other senior citizen.
I’ve since been paying more attention to the way I see the elderly treated, and I am embarrassed by the lack of respect and the patronizing tone I’ve seen many people take with a senior citizen. They are often treated like second-class citizens with no opinion, and nothing to add to society. It’s as if, once a person reaches a certain age, she is no longer needed.
Let’s work on recognizing the contributions these seniors have made, and those they have yet to make. Allow their voices to still be heard. As long as they are still on this Earth, they are a viable part of our society.
When we were children we were taught to respect our elders. Today’s culture is a disgrace to those very same elders. The elder-care “system” is rife with neglect and abuse. Nursing homes are nothing more than understaffed holding places for those seniors who are dependent on others for care. There is very little home happening there. I have heard stories of seniors who are malnourished because they need help eating and there is no one to help them. This is shocking, or at least it should be.
In a culture that seems to care so little for its aging population, it might do us all some good to remember that we are cultivating a system that will be the very one we wind up in when we are seniors. I, for one, am not okay with that.
Take a moment today, and every day to show the seniors in your life that they matter.
**My post in no way condemns all nursing homes. I am aware that there are some that are actually well-equipped, and staffed with nurses who care.