Agism and serving the elderly

Since there is a wide range of people in here I was wondering what are some of the ways for us to help remember them. Multiple times in the Bible it mentions that we are to remember the widows/widowers. I often hear from others that the elderly are often marginalized and treated with less dignity than you would presume they would be given. Sort of like the “hysterical woman” or “angry man” insult there seems to be a “crazy or stubborn senior” stereotype.

What recently got me thinking more about this a few things.

The first one is that one thing I do is take out the trash for a handful of elderly people near me. They are 80+ and things that most of us think nothing about is a major deal for them. It’s easy for most of us to lift up a 20lbs bag of trash and the suction of the can and bag is something we can easily break as we lift it chest high. But many elderly people can’t. It’s a battle to lift the bag out, to carry it to the road, and so on. From my volunteer work I’ve realized that often some of the elderly people accused of being hoarders are actually just suffering from strength and stamina to get rid of stuff snd it builds up beyond what they feel they can handle.

Another event was while hiking a few days ago I saw how a handful of the old benches were falling apart. They use to be every few hundred feet. Then they started being every 1/2 mile or so. Many of the ones though remaining are bad and need to be repaired. I had two flashbacks while thinking about them. One was how in a budget committee once there was this argument that we need to spend less money on benches. It’s a 11 mile hiking trail , though it’s made up of many short loops. But it’s a few hundred dollars per bench and can be thousands for larger ones with arm rests set in place with pilings and swings. The other memory was that one day a ranger told me that he just found out that a elderly woman who sat down on a bench that had no back fell of the back and dislocated her hip and was given medication that negatively reacted with another one and she died in the hospital and the daughter was mad because she told her mother , who was really old. The daughter was probably in her 60s. Anyways she told them that she’s not sure why her mother sat in that bench that she knew it was not safe for her because she fell from it before. Then me and ranger realized that all three benches along that trail was removed so the path could be widen and the new benches were not yet in. So this woman essentially fell and got hurt because the benches was not good for the elderly because they had no backs. Was just seats.

Then recently I watched the horror film by George Romero called “The Amusement Park” which was lost back in the early 70s and only found and released in the last few years and digitally restored and released even more recently. But it’s a horror film that was originally commissioned by the Lutheran Society as a educational film on elderly struggles and ageism. However, obviously Romero ( contributed with one of the biggest influences in zombie horror with his films like Night of the Living Dead ) made it darker than they liked and so it was shelved and lost. But the film does a terrific job at showcasing seemingly mundane events to most people as terror for this elderly man. He’s repeatedly mocked for simple mistakes, shoved aside because he’s to slow as people run past him. Every step of the way he’s asked repeatedly did you take your meds and he is given food because no one is sure they saw him eat or not. The film is good if you like older films though.

All of these things have really recently got me wondering about ageism inside and outside the church and how can we make sure we don’t just dismiss them. It did make men more aware at church and watching some events unfold such as younger people all parking up front and people rushing past the elderly to get outside before they get in their cars and take too long to get out of the parking lot. Even watched someone who was holding the door and clearly looking upset as an older man was making his way towards him and so he let the door shut and though no one was really paying attention I could tell that the older man did indeed have a look as if it’s his fault he needs a cane to walk and I could tell he was humiliated at himself.

Definitely going to try to do some quick research and try to do more to visit the elderly who have definitely been pushed to the side. Often on Sundays I will hear a list of like 10 elderly people in the hospital and they will give out their room numbers and seems like almost no one visits, and that’s also based off of talking to the pastors about pre covid numbers S well. Any good books or podcasts associated with ageism snd neglect of the elderly within the church?

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Thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m a senior and trying to recover from a 2nd stroke which was really terrible. I rely on the kindness of neighbors like you! It’s also important for towns to have senior services such as free or low-cost rides, etc.

I’ll watch the movie you mentioned. It appears to be on Amazon Prime.

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I really enjoy the film. But it’s B class Romero horror film from the 70s. Black and white. But I am a big fan of horror including older ones. The film did a great job at showing it though.

I have been purposely trying to pay attention to it as info about my day and I have really noticed younger people speed walking and squeezing past older people a lot. It’s bizarre to know it’s been happening and I have simply not been noticing it.

I haven’t yet banked my full three score and ten but will do so before long. I’m definitely a senior and I have no delusion about being able to do what I’ve always done.

Some things I’ve deliberately changed, like my driving habits. I used to get from point A to point B making very good time. Now I tell my self constantly to take it easy, that I’m under no time pressure. My reaction time is not what it used to be. I’m also weaker and if I lift anything heavy there’ll be a price to pay. Not worth it.

But I don’t notice much disrespect from younger people. Mostly people are very friendly. But, especially when I still went to the Y, I am usually in the company of other elders. It used to bug me when I was trying to read a novel and a couple of older people would carry on a loud conversation. But then I realized they probably had lost mates and friends and needed this social time as much or more as we do the exercise. I’m sure that time is coming for me soon enough. Losing canine companions is good practice for losing each other. Makes you realize it is far better to miss one a lot that you had a great connection to than to get off easy when they go because the loss is isn’t as great. Love and joy are worth great sorrow.

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Spare a thought too for those of us who care for elderly relatives. I’ve been looking after my mother pretty much single-handedly since she had a stroke fifteen years ago, about five years after my father passed away. It’s been pretty tough because it’s put a massive damper on my social life – due to her lack of mobility we aren’t able to get out and about much. Fortunately I have family living nearby, we have a very supportive church, and I get a lot of understanding from work.

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