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Ending Ageism Begins With Honoring Our Elders by Sherri Rosen

(This is for all the people who feel they will never grow old.)

When facing your biggest fear and failing–keep on going until you get it right!


I am so mad! I will tell you why.

I’m talking about ageism because of a remark of a young woman in my building made to me when she found out I was having shoulder surgery.  There was no “I’m so sorry you have to go through that”, “can I help in any way”, anything we can do, just ask.” Nope! It was “your body is falling apart!”  I knew right then and there I should have kept my mouth shut and not said one word to her.

But there are loads of people like her.  They don’t think they will ever get old and don’t give a shit about folks like myself going through the aging process.  For years I’ve heard the quote “aging isn’t for sissies.”  It never meant much to me until now.  It is so true “aging isn’t for sissies.”  When one thing goes wrong in your body it could be a whole bunch of other things that go wrong at the same time.

I have to be so brave and strong to keep on exercising, pay close attention to what I eat, not be around negative people (like that young women who slapped me with her words), have a great support system of men and women of all ages (that takes some work also), and hopefully meet up with a great lover and companion.

It’s not that I feel invisible like many other older women say they feel, I just feel there isn’t any respect or compassion for the aging process and I wonder how all of these other people in our culture will deal with it when it’s there turn.  Between a high amount of plastic surgery (and I’m not saying anything is wrong with it), anti-aging creams, Viagra for men (is there anything out there for women), films mostly for the young, very few roles for women who are “older”.

WTF? I know that much of the plastic surgery is done because men and women fear aging and women are now opting for cosmetic surgery by the age of 39 – down three years since 2012 when the average age was 42.

The Instagram culture is being blamed for the swift increase in younger women choosing plastic surgery for the first time.

But it is not just women who are opting to surgically alter their looks.

The average age of men seeking cosmetic surgery has also dropped in the last five years from 47 to 45.

Much of this is done because of fear of aging and the negativity people feel towards aging and the aged.

I yearn to be part of a culture where the elders are respected and honored.  Yes, there are some cultures that actually respect, admire and love the storytelling of our elders.  Arianna Huffington said “Ten years ago I visited the monastery of Tharri on the island of Rhodes with my children. There, as in all of Greece, abbots are addressed by everyone as ‘Geronda,’ which means ‘old man.’ Abbesses are called ‘Gerondissa.’ Not exactly terms of endearment in my adopted home. The idea of honoring old age, indeed identifying it with wisdom and closeness to God, is in startling contrast to the way we treat aging in America.”

“In African-American culture, death is seen as part of the “natural rhythm of life,” which lessens the cultural fear around aging. For this reason, Karen H. Meyers writes in The Truth About Death and Dying, “African-American funerals tend to be life-affirming and to have a celebratory air intermingled with the sorrow.”

So what is the solution to all of this?  It begins in the family. Honoring our elders. Yes, many of them are awful, but many are quite wonderful.  There is so much wisdom that they can impart to our youth.  Allowing them to work to whatever age they want to work.  Keeping minds active.  Who has to retire? No one if they don’t want to.  Not keeping them tucked away in private communities, nursing homes.

There are communities called “Co-Housing.” Where multi-generational people lived together in their private housing and come together in shared community experiences. There is also the possibility of men and women sharing an apartment together with enough space and freedom for privacy.  The elderly need to still be kept part of society and not be thrown away to disappear so we don’t have to look at them age.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 24th, 2018 at 6:44 am and is filed under activism, African American, Clients. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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