Friday, August 31, 2007

To Be or Not To Be Senior Citizen

A recent article in Haarez by Arye Dayan talks about a new book by Dr. Israel Doron. He mentions how Israel Law discriminates against the old.
It made me curious to find out more about the author and going to Google I found another interesting article by Israel Doron about the Failure of the Senior Citizen Law. In spite of many attempts to get it going, it main problem seems to have to do with finding the necessary budget.

To Be or Not to Be a Senior Citizen, that is my question.

There are other aspects that are no less essential and are less budget bound.

To show respect towards old people, to acknowledge their mere existence, to have open intergenerational communication and joint activities does not require huge budgets, but would make us feel a lot better.

To get to know the old people, a large and ever growing sector of the general society in Israel, is essential.
There is no role model in the Israeli society to go by, on how to keep the old as an integral part of the whole.
At the beginning of Statehood we were essentially a young society with few old people. Meanwhile those that were young then, have grown old and in addition, advancement in medicine allows us to grow older and older.

We have a long period of our life, from 60 plus to 90 plus, a period of over 30 years of being considered old and older. The later part becomes increasingly more and more difficult. The feeling of no longer being needed allows the feeling of loneliness to get hold of us.

Unfortunately we are often judged by the exceptions.
Those that are supposed to deal with us old people are used to look for what is the problem and then try and solve it. That seems to be the way social workers are taught during their studies.
They talk about us old people, but do not talk with us.
The same at the decision making level.
Who ever talked with us, but rather they decide for us.
What about our autonomy? Do we have to forego that just because we grow old?

There are other alternative ways at looking at aging, rather than only trouble- shooting. For example, what are the needs of old people and how can they be met.

Our emotional and psychological needs remain the same as in other age groups. Our need for respect remains and we need recognition of our special needs.
We may need help in keeping up with new modern methods, such as “Caspomat” or other new devices unfamiliar to us.
Keeping up with time is an art, which needs to be mastered. Some of the older people may need more help than others.

It is difficult to maintain self-respect when society downgrades us as being useless, as a burden unto them, as extra mouths to be fed.

The study of ageism has to take on a new look, no longer just based on old-fashioned Gerontology. It is not enough to know that we old people do not see so well any more, do not hear so well, do not walk so well. That is old and well- known stuff.

It is more important to know how to help us cope better with what we still can do for ourselves, how to balance between dependency and autonomy.
To respect us the way we are, in order for us to preserve our self-respect and self-esteem, which are essential ingredient for coping.

Liora Bar-Tur, Phd. in her book Metal Health and Aging, The Challenge, evaluation and Treatment, mentions the lack of interest on the part of student in any subject dealing with the old.
On the other hand, if they take the offered class in Psychology of the Old, sometimes for no other reason then that it happens to fit into their time schedule, the more they get into the subject the more interesting they find it.

In the book edited by Prof. Arnold Rosin, Aging and Old Age - Eshel 2003, as against the well-researched medical aspects, the psychological, sociological and Anthropology aspect of Aging and Old Age are less developed and often are pretty well neglected.
According to many of those that contributed to the book, more research is needed in these fields, in order to better cope with the ever- growing sector of society.

To Be (old) or Not to Be (old) is not a question.
In spite of it all, we all hope to grow old gracefully.

The big question is how to keep up, and if possible, improve the quality of life of old people, an ever-growing part of our society.

An eighty-four year old great-grandmother


Benjamin said...

Hello Ester,

your blog is very interesting, so I can share your expierence since I´m out of Israel. I hope you are fine, it would be a pleasure to hear from you:

A Happy Rosh HaShana - Hag Sameach!
I thinking about to do a Gijur...


Benjamin Morgan
Yad Vashem Volunteer ASF

Susan said...

Hi Ester, found your Blog through La Salette Journey. Your stories are really informative and very educating. I never knew anything about the Kinder Transport before. I cherish you Ester. I am a Christian and I pray for survivors of the Holocaust and their families. I am also thankful for the witness of people like Paul Melanson who believe the cry "Never Again" should be shouted from the housetops.

You are in my prayers Ester. Thank you for what you do and more importantly who you are.