The invisible aged: the people politics forgot

The invisible aged: the people politics forgot

It happens to all of us who are fortunate enough not to succumb to fatal disease, accident, assault or some other form of early death....We get older!

As children and in youth, we generally don't think about dying.  Even less do we consider that the "oldies" can possibly feel like we do or even have an inkling of what we are "going through".  The aged seem almost to be another species to whom we find it difficult to relate and who often seem so stupid that they either can't or won't accept, adapt to or feel comfortable with current technology.

We may respect and love our aged relatives, but rarely do we accept them as our equals or capable of feelings and understandings such as we have at the time.

Age doesn't creep up on you, rather it jumps out & startles you one day when you least expect it and are unlikely to be prepared for it.  Sure we can feel the change happening, but we put it down to fatigue, circumstances or lack of exercise. Any reason will do, except the truth!

There are various signs that confirm that it has arrived: the need for glasses or hearing aids; the lack of energy, the lack of mobility or flexibility that you always took for granted; the forgetfulness; the frustration at the disappearance of products, packaging, presentation and civilities to which you've been accustomed and the forgetfulness...again! I'm sure that the older among us could add much to this list.

Most aged people manage to adapt to all those aspects, sometimes easily and sometimes not so easily, even the harshest of them, such as loss of income, loss of friends or partners and loss of position. These people and "things" seem to be all that give us credibility and respect in our society today. We can often forget that true strength comes from within, but we all need external factors to help lift us up and carry us through life.

The most striking affliction, as you age, is the realisation that you've become invisible.  Not only are you no longer attractive, eligible, employable, good fun or worth being around, but, just as motorists don't see motor-cyclists even when they are wearing bright clothes, the aged become invisible to the younger portion of society.

There can, however, be benefits to this invisibility.  Ageing is not all bad - or, at least, not necessarily bad. Not being seen can allow you to live your life without criticism, interference or interruption. It's freedom and we all enjoy being free.

Unfortunately for many aged persons, life can be a lonely place. It seems that today there is little respect for the wisdom of the aged and little demand to include the valuable contribution they could bring to decision-making and organisation in our communities.

Aged people continue to demonstrate that such is a fact by contributing endless hours to voluntary work and assisting others but even that is generally considered to be "therapy" for them rather than a real contribution to the better functioning of society.

So, next time you see an old person with ancient hollow eyes, don't just walk on by, say: "hello in there, "hello".

(Acknowledgment to Joan Baez for one of the most moving renditions of the song, "Hello in there."

 

If you needed confirmation that the elderly have been forgotten, you only need to look at the 2016 budget and its attack on residents of aged care facilities

Source: The invisible aged: the people politics forgot | John Watkins | Opinion | The Guardian  with additions  and minor amendments by Michael Kaff

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