April Tone Magazine Article

Society’s View of Elders

In my March article, I talked about how we don’t have a tendency to see the elders amongst us.  The other impression that I have is that society has a tendency to see many older people as demanding and self-centered rather than wise.  Does this mean we have fewer elders than previous generations in our society because we do not ‘see’ or respect it and therefore does not get fully developed or expressed?  Or is it because we have become more ego-centric and therefore not as interested in developing our wisdom or interest in how we can make a difference in our society? I suspect the former is the greater culprit. Without a ‘fertile ground to flourish’, the potential atrophies. 

The media has not demonstrated much interest in showing us the elders amongst us.  I have seen very few articles in magazines, newspapers or television about elders’ contributions to society although I have no doubt there are many amazing ones.  They rarely use people over 40 in advertising other than for promoting seniors’ residences or medical conditions.  They seem invisible.  The fact that a few movies have come out recently about older people and have had great reviews from the critics and the public, I think is an indication that we are interested.     

Society seems to attach value only to those contributing in the workplace.  Once they leave, they belong ‘out to pasture’, out of the way.  Many of us, however are not interested in the leisurely retirement of just staying home, golfing and/or travelling, we want to participate. 

The fact that society does not recognize elders affects those of us who are transitioning from adulthood to elderhood (usually between 50 and 65) as we experience a sense that we no longer belong where we used to have a very strong sense of belonging.  I assume it affects as well the generation just before us, who are already elders and feel separate from society, not experiencing being an integrated part of it.

All of this is happening at a time when our lives have been extended 25 to 30 years at the end of our adult years and likely to be in relatively good health.  In addition, the boomers are the first generation to outlive all previous ones before us as well as being the largest cohort of all time.  

Why does all of this matter? Because how society views us impacts how we will experience our elder years ourselves. We will need to change society’s views of us, starting with our own perspective on aging. Although we are seen as the generation that had the most opportunities, the most privileged, most of us lived a full and active life, we worked hard, and wanted the best for our children and actively involved in their lives.  We were demanding of what we wanted in life, we had high expectations and we fought for what we believed in. I think we learned a lot from what we lived and as a result, have a lot to give back.

Furthermore, as we transition into elderhood, we have a tendency to shift from busyness to meaningfulness. Our interests turn more towards our heart’s/soul’s needs than those of our ego. We are less interested in doing more than doing what matters.  I believe this is a very worthwhile endeavour.

I offer one-on-one process work as well as a six-month program. If you are ready to engage in this transition, please contact me to discuss which process is best for you.

I would love your opinions on this article – please comment below.

 

 

March Tone Magazine Article 2013

How to Recognize the Elders Amongst Us

Agism is an undercurrent that we don’t always recognize.  Since I’ve been researching and putting together a program and process work on how to transition from adulthood to elderhood, I considered myself rather ‘enlightened’ in ‘seeing’ an Elder, who in my definition, is an old wise person.  From the following encounter described next, I realized to what extent we unconsciously judge people passed a certain age.

I was waiting at the counter in a store to pay for an article when I noticed the woman who was serving the customer in front of me was arduously calculating something and it was taking her an inordinate amount of time (from my perspective).  I noticed that she was likely in her mid- 60’s or older and immediately thought she was very slow because she was too old to be doing this.  I realized how automatic that came.  If she had been a young person, I would have just thought she was slow.

A young woman, about 18 years old, came to the counter and the older woman continued concentrating on her calculations.  The young woman said hi and asked a hug from her.  She extended her arms and gave her a hug.  The young woman said she would come later.  The customer whom she was serving in front of me commented she must be her grand-daughter.  She replied:  ‘oh no, she used to work here and I just encouraged her because her family was too busy. I didn’t think she should spend the rest of her life working in a store and I encouraged her to go back to school which she finally did.  She saved the money and went back to school.  I probably nagged her too much’.  I replied:  ‘whatever works!’  The woman in front of me agreed. 

This older woman said all of this very matter-of-factly, like she was commenting on a movie she watched last night.  She did not seem to realize the profound difference she made to this young woman.  She just did it naturally, like there was nothing exceptional about it.  She continued serving us attentively; taking the time she needed to serve us well. 

If I had not done the research on how society, which means us, view older people (of which I a one at age 60), I would not likely have noticed what an amazing woman she was and the profound difference she made to that young woman who very clearly appreciated her.

How many of us truly ‘see’ people we consider old?  How often do we just assume they are too slow and should not be ‘seen nor heard’?

I would love your comments below on this article.

I offer one-on-one consultations and programs to support people transitioning into their third stage of life, from adulthood to elderhood, to realize a more meaningful fulfilled life.  Please contact me at 613-833-1988 if you wish to explore further.

Thérèse Kelders