Social Problems Of The Elderly
A topic we should pay attention to since we’ll all get there eventually.
Yea, funny isn’t it? The elderly are easy targets of humor. They are ignored, taken for granted, their experiences not listened to. “Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it” yet the knowledge the elderly have to share is shunned and ignored. Too boring to listen to some old fart. Yet they adapt as times change. This is about some of the problems an aging population is facing.
Families used to live together. They didn’t shuffle their elder family members off to homes unless there were specific physical or mental reasons for doing so. Now people move as job markets or neighborhoods change. The elderly friends are often dead or dying. Living alone causes them to lose socialization skills. Often it’s hard to make new friends, gain new skills. Money is often an issue as well. If they can’t afford it, they can’t do things like take classes, go to senior oriented events, etc. There comes a point where it goes past being repairable. Mental health is a delicate thing when you feel nothing but alone with no options.
The old make easy targets, whether for a mugging, or abuse in the home or a care center. With poor eyesight, their memory being questioned, they can’t even testify against the abusers without being questioned as being creditable witnesses. Not all old folks have Alzheimer’s but most are treated as they do. It comes back to the fact that no one LISTENS to old people.
Health and Mobility Issues:
With age eyesight deteriorates, motor skills begin to fail, and various other medical problems intrude. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and just being old can make a cold or flu deadly. With luck they have insurance other than just Medicare. If they don’t, and aren’t well off, just getting needed medications becomes something unaffordable. When the choice is food or medicine you are stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. To most young people it seems like the attitude is “Good, let em die off”. The young feel the old are a drain on society even though they have paid all their lives. With problems of mobility they are forced to use whatever mass transit is available, once again making them targets in a world they may or may not understand any longer.
As they feel more and more alone, more isolated from society, it simply speeds their lack of caring about living or dying. If you had no one you could call and chat with, no friends, no family, where do you think your mind would turn to? While this is also isolation and loneliness, it’s worse. You feel you have no options. TV and radio are your only companions. Maybe a pet that you pray will not outlive you, although you fear that as well. Constant fear when in public, in a society you have no anchor in.
Everyone will come to this point in time. Compassion and caring are the only things that will reverse the issues facing the elderly. If they are not dealt with soon, those who are young now will face a VERY bleak future since there will be no pity or empathy for them. After all, they are the ones who allowed this attitude to spread. In a song by “The Who”, “My Generation” It was said “I hope I die before I get old.” I rather think I’d like to see 120-150 or so. Everyone must make their own choices here, but to me, death is not a choice. Death is just death, the one thing we all face alone.
Acta Medica Medianae 2007;46(2):45-48.
Dorothy Smith-Ruiz, PhD
Department of Sociology and
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