“Sometimes y'all get me wondering "What do old folks (or is it elders?) want?" the same way that men confronted with women's lib in the 70s wondered "What do women want?"
“…Maria complains when there is a special class for seniors—something that, in my mind, acknowledges that someone has been considerate enough not to think everyone has the same needs or desires as the 20-year-old co-ed next to me. Ronni (rightly so!) points out how the process for flu shots could have been improved had some forethought and planning gone into providing for the needs of the elderly/aged/senior/mature recipients.
“So what's the message here? Should I expect people to treat me with the deference afforded by my age, just as long as they don't label me as senior?”
The reason for the existence of TGB is to explore what getting older is really like. Time Goes By was launched nearly two years ago because just about all popular writing about the later years of life is focused on decline, debility and disease and that can’t possibly be all there is to it.
We live in a profoundly ageist culture where youth is the gold standard of life and the appearance of youth substitutes for youth itself. Older people who don’t keep up their end of the bargain to deny that aging exists (through any means possible, including injecting themselves with a poison, Botox, and undergoing sometimes dangerous surgery) are marginalized, demeaned, kept out of the workforce and generally made invisible.
Mainstream media upholds this ageist attitude. Many “cute-ify” old people with underlying tones such as “Isn’t that cute how someone her age manages to publish a blog.” Another way this is done is to hold up the few old people who run marathons, for example, as the ideal of age, suggesting that those who aren’t triathlon competitors are slackers.
The most insidious result of an ageist society is age discrimination in the workplace which denies people even as young as 45 and 50 the right to advance their careers and even to work at all – only because they are no longer young.
By pointing out these issues, revealing other, positive sides to getting older, discussing what later life (increased, on average, by 30 years during the 20th century) should and can be, Time Goes By and its readers are helping to reinvent old age.
In the course of doing that, there are bound to be disagreements, false starts, errors in judgment, confusion and great discoveries too. We are in new territory and from my end, it is an exciting adventure every day. I am grateful to have so many readers who jump in with their thoughts, opinions, arguments and stories. Together we are discovering ourselves in this time of life.
And so if Maria wants an age-neutral exercise class, Jill objects to the word elder, Jude thinks biddy is just fine and Cowtown Pattie wants to know why "you ol’ heifer" wasn’t included among the poll choices – it’s all part of the process of figuring out what getting older is really like and how we might want to change things.
What each of us wants is not always the same and that is as it should be. We are proving that elders cannot be lumped together within the stereotypes the culture often tries to box us. We are as different from one another as people in any other stage of life.
The people who leave comments here surprise me every day and I don't always agree. But I learn from everyone who visits here and I have been changed because of it. I’m a having a terrific time exploring old age with all of you and hope you are too.