Aging/Gerontology

Elders: A Misunderstood and Unappreciated Segment of Society

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

Seniors, older adults, the elderly, although personally I am not enamored with most of these terms. They are our elders, our parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents (much more respectful words).

I have had the pleasure, the gift, or the honor, of working with seniors for 12 1/2 years; 6 months as a volunteer and 12 years as a MSW level social worker.

This segment of the population has taught me so much. Technically, where I am employed a ‘senior’ is 50+ but most of my clients are 75+ and I have to say, after working with youth, families and younger adults, I know my niche is older adults.

Think of how much an older adult has seen and lived through? Electricity, the train, the car, the airplane, the women’s vote, prohibition, the Great Depression, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Civil Rights, man on the moon, Women’s lib, advocacy for Aids patients, the Gulf War, too many genocides from WWII, Kosovo, Sarajevo, African country genocides, the conflicts in the middle east and now the resurgence of antisemitism.

What can the younger generations brag about? Cell phones, smaller computers, social media…..not so much compared to the older generations……

I consider it a privilege to work with seniors or older adults. I enjoy hearing of the history they have witnessed. They have taught me much. Many of my clients are Holocaust Survivors-consider what they lived through? My life pales in comparison, but their example is to be happy with what you have. Materialistic goods, what does it bring you? Happiness-maybe. Strive for what brings you joy is what I have been told.

Seniors/older adults, in general, are a segment of the population that can make one fearful, perhaps uncertain. Aging does bring its own unique issues-health concerns diseases, illnesses, mobility issues, possibly mental health issues, and the reality that you are at an age where death is closer.

Not enough services in place in any country for healthcare, medical care or allowing for ‘aging in place’ which is really what most of us would want. Stay at home for as long as possible with services coming to us-whether it is a nurse, physician, social worker, physiotherapist, spiritual leader; whether a rabbi, priest or minister, home care workers or personal health care workers (term depends on where you live) along with cleaning services, grocery shopping, etc.

Personally, with the technology we have today, I look forward (although I still have time to go) until I reach my ‘golden years’ and I do not fear it. I am healthy, eat well, live as stress free a life as possible, enjoy my friends and family, and very much enjoy the profession I have chosen to work in-social work.

As a society, let’s show some respect for seniors/older adults as we will all be there one day.

*Initially posted on http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/

5 thoughts on “Elders: A Misunderstood and Unappreciated Segment of Society”

  1. I could not agree more! The elders are (should be) the salt of our society! I remember watching a “twilight zone” episode (I think it was TZ or some similar show), where everyone was led to believe that life ends at age ~35. They willing walked into a volcanic abyss…and thereby kept the population young. I am still shocked by the premise of the story… though it seems most of our very young … has no regard for our Diamond Elders! They all live as though they will never grow old. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dr. McGann, I could not agree with you more-I am older than 35 and do not feel in anyway as if I fall into the ‘older adult’ category, but know there are many, many years ahead to be an active member in society. Life does not end at 35!
      Society has much to learn from older adults who have lived through and seen so much more than the younger generations…..

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