Monday, May 18, 2009

Ageist Attitudes?

How do we view older people? This is a question that came up during the discussions in our Seniors' Weekend.

Society seems to look down on our older citizens. Most names for them have negative overtones, whether they are described as wrinklies, OAP's, the blue rinse brigade. Pensioners are pensioned off, seen as worthless by most people, a drain on the social security budget with their pensions and benefits.

Just think of the road traffic warning sign for elderly people:

Not too complimentary, is it?

Particularly in the church setting, older people can sometimes be seen as resisting change - as long as they're around - which may be frustrating to younger members.

Yet the sad reality is that many of our older people feel worthless and lonely. Mobility can be a problem, with some being trapped within their homes, no longer able to get out to the shops or church. They can easily slip through the net, quickly forgotten when no longer active in the parish, and so need more support, not less. Health issues can add to the sense of helplessness, and can be a dent on their independence.

So how can we help older folk? We've looked at how our society views them. Tomorrow we'll think about how God views older people, and then on Wednesday we'll see how churches can engage in seniors ministry and outreach.

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