Encore Tidbits for Seniors: Discrimination Against Seniors?

Written by L. James Harvey on . Posted in Family

helpwanted Is there discrimination against seniors in our society?

Of course there is. We've actually passed national legislation prohibiting age discrimination in the workplace because it was a problem, however, there is much other discrimination as well. We live in a society that worships youth. We tend to favor those who are the strongest, the fastest, and the most modern, characteristics that tend to favor the young, and we often tend to overlook the wisest, the most ethical, and the most charitable, critical characteristics that tend to favor the elderly. Many societies in our world actually revere the elderly because they are often the repository of the wisdom, history, values, and tradition of their society. A good case can be made for the fact that many of our current societal problems in the U.S.A. could have been avoided if the wisdom and traditions of our forefathers had been adhered too.

We also have discrimination in our society in the form of elder abuse and financial scams visited largely on the elderly. We have forced retirements in the workforce to get rid of seniors and we have derogatory terms used for the elderly like old geezer, older than dirt, and over the hill, which are pejorative in nature. We now face a major problem in health care with seniors living longer and using an inordinate amount of available health care in our declining years. Death panels are being talked about and ways are being considered to deal with this issue.

Is there any way this discrimination can be dealt with? The answer is, yes, and organizations like AARP have programs to help seniors. We are also passing laws to help, but there is something seniors can do to help themselves.

I've mentioned before in this column that seniors control about 70% of the factors that lead to their health and longevity. We can stay healthy and productive into our 90s if we live right. The Bible says, (Psalm 92), "The righteous shall bear fruit in old age and they shall stay fresh and green." If seniors live healthy active productive lives much of the discrimination listed above will go away because instead of being a burden on society we will be a blessing instead. Statistics also show that active seniors tend to die more quickly when their time comes, which can help the health care system issues. Seniors who are obese, engage in binge drinking, smoke, are lazy and on the public dole are opening the door to ridicule and discrimination some of it rightly deserved. In short, seniors control many of the factors which lead to discrimination so if we don't live appropriately we are partly at fault. If we're growing mentally, socially, physically, spiritually, and in service to others we will benefit society and help offset many of the negative stereotypes about us.

Society is partly to blame for the problems here because they encourage seniors to retire and live life at leisure when they reach 65. This concept is harmful in itself because the research on aging, and biblical teaching, emphasize staying active and productive as the keys to happiness and longevity. Being a lazy hedonistic couch potato is the wrong path to take.

As I close this column, let me invite readers to attend an important gathering on April 30 from 3:30 – 5:00PM at the Main Grand Rapids Library downtown. The library and the Senior Coalition are jointly sponsoring a program entitled "Culture Warfare Against Seniors." The main speaker will be Dr. Henry Holstege, Emeritus Professor of Sociology/Gerontology from Calvin College. Yours truly will lead a discussion on the topic and share some ideas about how seniors can counter problems caused by the discrimination. We hope to see you there.

How you know you're getting old

You stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

Author Information
L. James Harvey
L. James Harvey was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Hope College with honors and has a Ph.D. degree in Counseling from Michigan State University. He has been a high school coach and teacher, a college director, dean, vice president, and president.

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