Saturday, April 16, 2011

Since When...

…does it become acceptable to ignore someone because they are a senior?

Not too long ago, I took my mom out to do some errands and we decided to go for lunch at a local restaurant. Although it was noon, we managed to arrive just in time to avoid the rush and any waiting line. We were seated at a table, given menus and told our server would be over in a few minutes.

Soon, the waitress did come and take our orders. I let Mom go first and then gave mine. We both got a turkey dinner, and I specifically asked for white meat. The norm for this restaurant is to give a bit of dark and white meat on the plate, unless you specifically ask for white (side note: I don’t care for the dark meat, unless it’s mixed up in something like a turkey/chicken pot pie). The waitress then looks at me and asks, “Does she (meaning my mom) want white meat too?” My mom spoke up for herself, “Dark meat is OK for me.”

We’ve actually run into that sort of situation often – drug stores, grocery stores, restaurants, department stores, etc. If I’m with my mom and the situation involves a third person (like a cashier or waiter/waitress), more often than not the third person will turn to me and tell me the needed information for Mom’s prescriptions, ask me if she wants cash back if she is using her debit card, or ask me if “she” wants white meat too.
When we get out of the situation, back into the car for instance, my mom will always turn to me and comment about the situation. I’m sure it makes her feel bad, and like an old lady who is incapable of speaking for herself.

Why do we do that? Why do we assume that just because a person who is in his/her later years is automatically hard of hearing or not capable of understanding instructions – or can’t speak for him/herself? Granted, there are some who do fall into those categories, but not every elderly person is deaf or hard of hearing. Not every elderly person is blind. Not every elderly person is incapable of taking care of him/herself.

I’m not going to tell you my mom’s age – she wouldn’t like it too much if I did! But my Mom is a senior. My mom is also highly capable of hearing, seeing, understanding what is said to her (and if she doesn’t understand, she asks questions), and taking care of herself.

We need to change our perspective on the elderly. Seniors deserve our respect; and they deserve their dignity.

A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31
Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

How do you treat seniors?