Making older people feel useless

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Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

Soren Kierkegaard

“There’s not much more I can contribute to life” she said, stooping over her walking stick, looking at the ground. “I can’t see, I can’t hear and I can’t even walk properly. What use am I now?” She spoke in a clear, steady voice to her carer, looking to him for some kind of response. “You can teach us what it is to age” he replied “because we all will do. You can teach us the importance of patience because we’re all less so these days. You can teach us what it is to have faith in people; tell us what it felt like to trust people coming to your front door, not feeling the need to lock it behind you. You can teach us what it means to respect, because there’s not much of it around at the moment. You can tell us your stories, share with us your wisdom and teach us to live. Tell us all the things that your eyes have seen. If people can’t see your use, then they’re not looking hard enough.”

How sad that we can let our older population believe that they are useless. How sad that we allow them to be excluded from our society. How strange that we ask for a long and healthy life and then fear old age. Their lives, their stories, their experiences can only enrich our own. Maybe if we viewed getting older in a different way, with help from the media and advertising, older people wouldn’t feel as old, wouldn’t feel as useless.

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