By Dr. Tyra Oldham
In the history of human civilization, the true measure of a society’s greatness lies not merely in its technological advancements or economic prosperity but in how it treats and cares for its citizens.
By examining how a society treats its most vulnerable members, particularly the elderly, we can gain profound insights into its values, compassion and level of enlightenment. A society that genuinely cares for its elderly population demonstrates a profound empathy for care, while understanding its overall contributions to society.
A society can be judged by how it cares for its citizens. A society that cares for older people is enlightened by valuing and honoring their wisdom. In the present, we stand on the backs and contributions of those who went before us. Laws and policies are necessary to protect the vulnerable and regard their safety, health and care needs. A society with empathy for others is inextricably linked to a prosperous society, especially in caring for our children and elderly.
Older people are one of our most precious resources. The exclusion of older people is defined as age discrimination. To discriminate based on age, leading to the substandard treatment of older citizens, is a cause for concern.
What we do to older people will undoubtedly be repeated over the generations, producing a cycle of disrespect and break in humanity. Some may ask what value the elderly offer. I excitedly scream our older citizens offer experience and relational connectivity to the past and present.
Their experience can provide value and connect generations to the historical elements that provide knowledge of the present. There is a need for connective tissue of history to the present within any communication, process or system leading to innovation.
The twist on discrimination for older people is that age discrimination suggested by AARP is between 45 and 70. Many believe it starts at 50. And for women, discrimination can potentially start earlier in different situations.
This topic of concern for us is to consider the U.S. Supreme Court rolling back affirmative action in universities; it also placed a higher burden to prove age discrimination giving employers more control.
The AARP reported in 2009 a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it harder for older workers who’ve experienced proven age discrimination to prevail in court.
The decision to produce a higher standard of discrimination for older workers impacts not just employment but the rights and care of older Americans.
Older people cannot afford to have their rights trampled. The loss of rights leads to further breakdowns impacting their retirements, benefits, health care and access to services.
It is important that older citizens are respected and cared for to accommodate their needs at any age. Our nation need not relegate our elderly to the sidelines. An enlightened society values the wisdom and perspective its seniors offer. A society of empathy and care seeks to tap into its wealth of insights to guide future generations.
The next step is to ensure gains driven by collective efforts for our older citizens that promote comprehensive care, health care facilities, social support networks and inclusive policies that empower them to have a wholly safe and healthy life after their careers are complete.
By embracing older people as precious resources rather than disregarding them as burdensome liabilities, such a society signifies its commitment to inclusivity, empathy and intergenerational connectivity.
A society undervaluing its elderly will ultimately be judged for the care of all its citizens. A society unable to integrate all citizens can ultimately undervalue the knowledge necessary for a vital dynamic nation.
We as a society must revere our elderly and grant them the respect that their age has afforded them.
Protect our elderly!