We are so civilized!
We love our children and old people, right?
Then how come we slash pre-school programs, food programs, and education budgets?
We take our old people out of their “too big” homes, put them into (very small) beautiful apartments, take away all their “toys,” sit them down in front of the tv, and say “be happy.”
They are up-rooted from their friends, schedules and routines. There isn’t room for most of their “toys,” the things that have given their lives meaning. Apartments range from minimal to gorgeous, and the managers think the renters should be grateful.
Seniors are not supposed to do anything. They have the responsibilities they have been used to all their lives, the things society thinks prove a person’s worth, taken away from them.
“But we have provided you with a beautiful apartment. You don’t have to shovel snow or mow the lawn!” True, but that also means there is little need for exercise, including going up and down stairs.
It sounds wonderful, but gradually one day merges into another and there is little incentive to do anything at all. Cooking for one and eating alone isn’t much fun. And frequently there is little fat in a senior’s budget for extraneous activities.
Other societies allow seniors to stay with their families, but here, with the nuclear families, parents frequently have little contact with their succeeding generations. This is changing somewhat but mostly seniors are not under the same roof as other family members. If they are lucky, they can afford to visit, and are welcome. Otherwise, tough luck.
We think that, because we have provided seniors with a nice apartment, society’s responsibility is discharged. But it is just a gilded cage. Occasionally, they need to be let out and made to feel useful, that they are worth something.
Some complexes don’t even allow pets – those reasons for getting up and dressed in the mornings, to go out and get a little exercise, not to mention the companionship value of having a pet.