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A kind word to the wise

Having spent numerous years advocating for the senior population, I have become especially sensitive to issues that pertain to senior abuse, nursing home violations and a variety of issues that concern this population sector. The exact age at which one becomes a senior varies according to context, but the majority of arenas consider 65 to be the coming of aged.

While increasing awareness of the potential for wrongdoing, I inadvertently omitted one of the worst injustices we can commit. It’s an admirable idea to identify harmful actions perpetrated against our senior population. But when you stop delivering respect to seniors while protecting their rights, you damage them almost as seriously as stealing their identities.

Several years ago, I experienced what most would consider senior discrimination in employment. This week I was told that I looked like an “old lady grandma.” And I am always amused when students ask my age and I respond, “135.” Their reactions are those of shock, wondering for a moment if I am serious. The best one was a third grader who asked if my grandma was alive when Jesus was born. Children have few filters and I elect to use the observation as a life lesson in careful selection of words.

You are well advised to exercise some caution about the method by which you choose to interact with seniors. Many have the advantages of experience, wisdom, diverse life experiences and the self-satisfaction that results from years on the planet.  Very few of us are oblivious to insult. While a helping hand will likely be appreciated, you may want to honor before you disparage.  Shalom.

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