Confronting ageism

Most discrimination is on its way out in our society — except ‘ageism’. Ageism is still socially acceptable and its effects can be devastating to seniors when physical, emotional or financial abuse occurs. I’ve seen it repeated in my extended family. Even this past week a relative in his 90s told me his son had cleaned out his savings. So sad to hear the story, though it is hard to evaluate such tales for we seniors don’t always get our facts straight.   

I have experienced few difficulties at those times when I must use my cane — I am closing in on my 90s. But I’ve listened to other oldsters, and though younger than me they tell the a story of being treated with discrimination.

Any senior with a moderate hearing disability needs people to speak up or provide a little extra volume. But cranking up the PA to high volume often starts a painful response in seniors’ ears. Younger people may love the blasting volume but I have ears that cry out for mercy. The person at the PA doesn’t give a hoot for us — that is ageism.

There are times I feel I am not seen because of my cane and limp; it is worse for others having  a major disability. A cane or a walker tend to make a person invisible. That is especially tough when able-bodied people take a parking space reserved for the disabled. Again ageism at work.

It is not just a cane but stooped shoulders and facial wrinkles seem to advertise that seniors may be treated as senile. It is hard to accept that some people no longer answer my email or others never want to have a serious conversation. At times seniors must put up with a tirade or rejection. Some seem to think all senior’s brains have dried up and blown away. Again, ageism.

And I wonder at times if some in the medical system figure it is not worth their time or concern to truly care for the ailments of seniors. I understand the frustration of facing seniors’ multiple complaints but at times seniors wonder if they are too close to the grave to make the bother worthwhile. Is ageism plying its trade again?

It is time everyone in Canada take a look at the discrimination of seniors. The experience of seniors over many years declares they have something valuable to offer. Our society should kick age ageism into the dustbin.

Roy C. Kenny,
Greater Napanee

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