Older people are not understood
It is the insidious nature of everyday ageism which affects me the most. Older people are not the desired customers of businesses, whether they are in retail, leisure, entertainment. In fashion industry we are seen as the boring customers and not the target market. In the beauty industry elderly women represent undesirability and even ugliness. It has spawned a huge market in potions and plastic surgery to hold back time. In broadcasting, we are not the target age group. This is true in television and radio. We are stereotyped in all forms of media unless we are extremely rich. We all know about the treatment of older women in TV. Ageism appears endemic in health care; it is the accepted view that older people are "burdens" and "bed blockers". ‘Care in the Community’ in my view sounds good, but does not really exist. If most of the patients were younger it would probably be very different.
All of the above explains why so many older people keep such a low profile. Many do not want to think of themselves as elderly because it has such poor connotations. It seems ludicrous to me that one may spend at least 35 years of one’s life being labelled as over the hill. Older people’s capacity for learning is grossly underestimated. Because the social and educational needs of older people are not understood by many people, organisations such U3A are very successful filling in the gap left by the demise of evening classes. It is run and organised by older people themselves. Of course most of us would prefer to join non-age specific organisations and societies. But due to ageism we do not always feel welcome. It makes no sense to me because it was only when I retired I was actually able to get involved in joining in social and leisure activities.
Like many others I fear falling ill and going into hospital. I absolutely do not want to go into a Care Home or sheltered housing unless I was convinced they have changed out of all recognition. I fear dementia and am not reassured that I would get the care I would need as I live alone. I fear not being able to get out and about. I hate being patronised as one often is because it is assumed that older people like or need it.
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