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Charlie Davidson

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Can the elderly play an important role in today's society?

Typically, elders are thought of to hold a certain wisdom and knowledge. But in today's society, we have the internet and many other valuable sources to acquire knowledge. Wisdom is becoming less and less valued, and elderly persons are thought to hold out-dated views.

Youth dominates today's society, and the elders that attempt to keep up with the times are pushed to become youthful as well. Many elders are moved to retirement communities as their health declines. Ultimately, there is a lack of their presence in influencing modern life.

In a society where everything new and young is valued, is there a place for our elderly? If not, should we attempt to create a place for them? Could the elderly ever become a largely influential part of our society?

EDIT: I use the term "elderly" to refer to the elderly who are seemingly inactive, and have been deemed overdue. Ones with health deteriorating so they can't do many "active" things because their physical shape prevents it. Do those elderly play a large role in today's society that is not apparent to us? If not, what largely influential role could we give them that could ultimately change the outcome of today's world?


This question is directed towards the U.S. and countries that treat their senior citizens similarly.

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  • Apr 23 2014: Your question implies that all "elderly" people are the same and so should be treated the same. They aren't. Some are old and wise, some old and stupid. Some are old and healthy, some old and ailing. Some have life experience that is worth learning from, and others managed to exist for decades while learning very little.

    I am reaching that age at which someone is going to call me 'elderly' one of these days. (First one to do so gets a punch in the mouth.) When I get there, I won't care how "society" treats me as I will be too busy figuring out how I should treat "society". People who say and do smart things will have my respect; people who are dumb and/or selfish, won't, regardless of their age. If I have knowledge or experience to offer that is relevant to something being discussed, I will offer it; if not, I will keep quiet.

    No I won't. I never keep quiet.

    The only difference between a young me and an old me is that the old me has started switching my lust from a Ferrari to a Bentley.
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      Apr 23 2014: Well said, but as I am already there.... I was fortunate enough in my misspent youth to gain some insight into a number of relevant issues. I use this forum to express my views and as you mention, I am not quiet.
      On a more personal note, Lust changes into vague memories and it goes from Bentleys to Carex, a well made wheel chair.
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      Apr 25 2014: My question did not imply a desired treatment of anyone. I do admit though that my term "elderly" encapsulated a wide array of people. I'm 15; please excuse my ignorance. Read my edit above, perhaps it will help.
      P.S. Sorry if I offended you.
      • Apr 25 2014: You didn't offend me. Even if you had done so, at 15 you're allowed to. I was 15 once, but it was so long ago all I remember was being madly in love with Sue Liddiard.

        Keep posting.
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        Apr 25 2014: Oh my goodness Charlie.....I remember when I was 15, and I thought anyone age 30 or older was "elderly".....over the hill!!! As I approach 70, I think I am a kid! LOL:>)

        You write..." I use the term "elderly" to refer to the elderly who are seemingly inactive, and have been deemed overdue"!!! Deemed "overdue" for WHAT......by WHOM???

        Perhaps you could re-think all the generalizations you have made....or not.....it is a choice:>)
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          Apr 25 2014: Well I find it difficult to narrow it down. I would say an age, but as another commenter pointed out, some elderly people are active until their departure. (My middle-aged father was smoked by elderly contenders in a race once. It was hilarious when he realized he recieved last place.)
          I typically think of my grandmother, not physically capable, but amazing in mind, deemed overdue by her children who put her in the care facility. She's 81. I wondered what system could we create so that she still impact the future, and then I wondered if maybe it's not a good idea.
          It's all been speculation though. No solid thoughts have been created yet. Another commenter pointed out this situation applies to young people as well, deemed physically incapable by illnesses and injury. So perhaps in my speculation I latched onto the most prevalent group of people I could find, considering it was exactly them who I had in mind when I hatched the idea.

          Perhaps this question applies to all disabled persons instead of elderly. I don't know. But then again not all disabled and elderly persons have lack of influence. Maybe we could narrow it way down to those with an "expiration date". Those told by doctors that they have so much time left to live. The point is, how can we make inactive people active again?Should we?
          Who are the inactive people? I have no clue anymore.
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        Apr 25 2014: Charlie,
        Perhaps you "find it difficult to narrow it down", because you have not personally had the experiences?

        LOL! Your story of your father getting beaten by elderly contenders reminds me.....

        In my 30s, I started playing tennis, and joined with a friend to sign up for a little local tournament. We were strong, healthy athletes, so when we were matched against a team in their 60s, we just laughed! The laughter and confidence in ourselves was premature however! Those two older ladies beat us handily! They didn't move a lot, but were very precise in returning shots so that we were running all over the place to return their shots! It was a great lesson for us:>)

        I suggest that your grandmother can still impact people in the care facility. I think of my mother, who at 87 had terminal cancer, and the last few months of her life, she moved into a care facility. When she was moving in, she said...these people all look sad and hopeless...they need some humor and laughter...which she began to provide for her last few months of life.

        Good point Charlie...perhaps your question applies to all people who are challenged in some way?

        You mention an "expiration date" given to people by doctors. I volunteered in a terminal care facility for a couple years, and everyone there had a suspected "expiration date"....in fact one requirement for admission, was a prognosis by a doctor that they had 6 months or less to live.

        Because the staff understood the life/death cycle, there tended to be less fear about death, and people were often joyful, and certainly impacted all those around. Then there were the cases like the person with the brain tumor, given a few months to live.....he was there for 3 years!

        You write..."The point is, how can we make inactive people active again? Should we? Who are the inactive people? I have no clue anymore."

        Perhaps it depends on how you judge active/inactive? I will consider myself "active" while taking my last breath...how about you?
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          Apr 26 2014: Very good point, Colleen! And your experience as a terminal care facility's volunteer, its very interesant. It must have been a nice job, undoubtedly hard, but interesant.
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        Apr 28 2014: It was very interesting Sean.
        I faced my own near death, spent time with a relative and two friends as they were dying, and because I am not afraid of death, decided to volunteer at the terminal care facility. I love taking the journey with people as they/we face the dying process. Because some folks have fear of death, it is sometimes difficult for the one dying to express everything they would like to express.

        It was interesting to observe different people, different families when facing their own death, and the death of loved ones. It was very interesting to hear their life stories.....what was important to them....etc.

        One thing I learned, is that those who felt they had lived a full and content life had no regrets, and were emotionally comfortable with the fact that they were leaving this earth.

        Those who had regrets had more discomfort and discontent with the dying process. They often expressed the idea that they were not finished yet....they couldn't leave yet. Unfortunately, they WERE leaving the earth, and sometimes they could rectify situations.....apologize to people they loved for something....say something that they had thought about for years and never expressed....things like that.

        My observation, is that we live as we die, and we die as we live.

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