Friday, 7 October 2016

Old People are People, Too (Aren't They?)

If it's good enough for Ghandi, then maybe we should be touching Grandma's feet too!

I'm pretty sure it was legendary activist Mahatma Ghandi who once said that a nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
But then, he would.
Smug in the knowledge that his beloved India already boasted a solid track record in the unconditional caring of it's ageing population, he would have been totally confident bandying about such bold and impassioned statements.
In a country where taking care of one's elderly parents in order to preserve sacred family values is not only tradition, it's also considered integral to society as a whole.
In fact, so great is the esteem and reverence bestowed upon India's elders, that youngsters are expected to literally bow down and touch the feet of their treasured grandparents as the ultimate display of respect and adoration.


Respect for Elderly
Touch us!
Touch us!

The Chinese, too, stay loving and loyal to their older family members by keeping them close, trusting in their vast spiritual wisdom and believing that great fortune will follow them and their household, because they are doing so.
Greeks and Italians also maintain endeared customs where elders demand intense respect from their offspring - including blessings that are sought from, and then held, in the highest of regard. With several generations of one family all co-habitating, co-parenting (and co-feasting on magnificent cultural banquets) all under the one, usually fairly large roof.
All the time sharing and caring galore for beloved Nonnie and Poppa – it's just the way it is. And not once are the words Nursing Home or Aged-Care facility considered... nor even dared be mentioned.

You look after your own and it's a beautiful thing.

Becoming older and being elderly here in Australia however, is a whole nother story!
Not that we don't care about the older adults in our lives (admittedly, there would be little chance of any feet-touching action)... and it's not that we don't WANT to look after dear old Ma and Pa when they can no longer manage on their own.
But with our frantic materialistic lifestyles, we fair dinkum Aussies barely have time to look after our kids, let alone take on care and responsibility of 'the Olds' as well. Having to sometimes move away from our home towns to go where the money is (the hole for a new swimming pool won't dig itself, you know) we abandon our ageing parents as we strive for bigger and better.
The once close-knit family dynamic is left in tatters and sadly, as our children grow up with little or no interaction with their grandparents, it means even less understanding of the issues older people face existing in today's frenzied modern world.

Elderly replaced by material wealth
Pool-time Sillies

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Should we worry that our youth think it's acceptable to treat their elders in this dismissive and disparaging way?
That our seniors, because they are retired from the workforce and are just sitting about idle, don't have creditable opinions anymore and therefore no longer contribute to society?
That they are just a burden on the community because they are old and doddery and dependant on others?
Well, today... as I stood waiting in the cashier's queue of a large Electrical, IT & Furniture store, I discovered all might not be as hopeless as we might think.

Amid the techno-bustle, I watched as a man of advanced years with white hair and rosy cheeks, walked tentatively into the shop... only to come to an abrupt halt.   

I knew immediately what would most surely be going through this old bloke's mind.

Crikey... where do I start?”

To be honest it was pretty similar to what I'd thought when I'd charged in earlier. Being one of these enormous retail outlets it's always daunting until you get your bearings, as well we know.
Thankfully when I'd arrived, I was greeted immediately by an efficient middle-aged-ish customer services lady labelled 'Brenda', who duly pointed me in the required direction thereby saving me from a lot of aimless roaming about.
Brenda however, was noticeably absent in coming to the aid of this gentleman. 

Still hovering in her official capacity at the entrance, directing customers, dispatching them off to the relevant departments... I watched as she quite literally favoured others coming in, over helping him!
And STILL he stood there.
Was she blind? How could she not see him?
Surely she wasn't outright ignoring this lovely misplaced chap on purpose? For goodness sake... it was like he was The Invisible Man!
Ok, so being that I work in the aged-care industry and am used to attending to the whims of my elderly clients on a daily basis, you might argue that perhaps I am just overly-sensitive to this type of situation.
Call it what you like, NEGLECT IS STILL NEGLECT!
And regardless of his age, it was just wrong that anybody should be treated in such a blatantly disrespectful manner. Such a nice unassuming old guy... on behalf of all the rotten Brendas out there, I felt utterly ashamed (and pissed off!).

Elderly being ignored in shops
- An elderly peep's worst nightmare

By this stage, too, the poor man was really getting jostled about. Customers were pushing past him with their large parcels and important busy lives. Finally, as I contemplated the ridiculous logistics of leap-frogging over the counter to go help this now visibly shaken senior, low and extremely young-looking sales assistant guy appeared.
I braced myself, dreading what awfulness might come from this juvenile whipper-snapper's mouth.
Would there be yet more disinterest, some degrading comments... in an equally degrading and patronising tone?
Or perhaps a reprimand for causing congestion on the shop floor?  Indeed, if Big Bad Brenda had trained him – he was doomed!
Blow me down, 'Aaron' (as per name badge), turned out to be the loveliest, most patient and caring young lad you could ever have wished for!  Upon touching the old boy gently on his arm so as not to give him a fright, Aaron tactfully drew him slowly away from the main thoroughfare and into the safety of the kitchen appliance aisle.
Looking him right in the eyes and talking directly to him, Aaron was giving this most relieved pensioner his fabulously full attention!  And after asking how 'Sir' was, suggested that he might like to sit down?
Oh, it was just wonderful to see – I could have cried!
And as I watched them chatting away together and joking about last weekend's appalling football results... I felt my faith in humanity had been restored.
Hooray for you, Aaron!   Maybe there's hope for us yet.
Indeed, if Mr Ghandi had been sneaking a look from behind the row of new toasters and over-priced cake mixers... I reckon without question, he would have felt absolutely and unreservedly, chuffed.

Old People are Paeople Too!

So you're saying it's not all about ME then?



  1. This is a good reminder for family members or resident facility caregivers as we are all mostly consume with the many mundane routines and endless obligations required in taking care of the elders. Love, empathy, and RESPECT must be maintained in dealing with them and I reiterate based on the title, “Old People are People, Too (Aren't They?)”.

  2. Absolutely, Geras! Sometimes we get caught up with the 'business' of everyday life and although we may be taking good care of the elders we live with or work for - it's important that we talk, listen and LAUGH with them as well. One day it will be us who is 'old' - we need to think about how WE would like to be treated when that time comes and then move forward with the same mindset NOW. Thanks for stopping buy,'s great to hear from like-minded people in the industry. Cheers, Dollie

  3. You have share awaysome post. Thank you.

    1. It's a pleasure to share, Harun! Enjoy your week. Cheers, Dollie