Our Perception of Older Adults Is Skewed
“Skewed” is a term that can be thrown around a lot, but it has a place in society’s perception of older adults. First, let’s get to the definition of “skewed”, a past tense of the verb “skew.”
The definition of “skew “as a verb is “make biased or distorted in a way that is regarded as inaccurate, unfair, or misleading”. What do I mean by our societal view of the older adults is inaccurate, unfair or misleading? Let’s take a look at how we interact with older adults and our assumptions about them.
My experience has been that often when we interact with an older persons we make assumptions. We assume because they are older they are hard of hearing so we talk louder, we assume we have to overexplain things because they are slower to understand, we assume the only thing they are interested inis Bingo or watching TV due to the loss of flexibility and mobility many elderly people experience. While being hard of hearing or sometimes taking longer to understand something and being less mobile is truefor some, this is not true of all elderly people. What we see of that person currently, is only a snapshot in time. We focus too often only on the illness or immobility we see before us and forget that person has had a full life.The elderly person we see before us has “the wisdom of the ages”. There is no college degree that will give you more knowledge or wisdom, than the life experience of living 80, 90 or 100+ years on this earth. What you are seeing is a person who has possibly been a vet fought on the beaches of Normandy, a woman who was a WAC (Women’s Army Corp), a teacher, a biophysicist, a wife, a mother, a father, a husband, a daughter or son, a miner, an attorney, a pilot, a pastor, a homemaker, and the list goes on. The 80+ generation has lived through WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Great Depression. They grew up with no TVs, operator assisted phone calls, half of America’s banks failing between 1929 and 1931 and no such thing as credit cards, social security or unemployment until the 1930s. Time was spent around the meal table talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, while eating a homecooked meal made from scratch after a long days work. Do you ever wonder why a bowl or somethingelse your parent or grandparent has is so valuable to them? Not because of the monetary value, butbecause of the memories tied to the item, like sharing a meal or holidays or a special time in their life. There are many elderly in their 90s who remain very active. As we commemorated the 75th anniversaryof D Day recently, Harry Read a 95 year old vet parachuted 75 years later on to the beaches ofNormandy as he did on D Day. There are 95+ yrs old sprinters, yoga instructors and so on. We must look at the whole person, the spiritual and emotional aspect, not just the elderly person before us in this snapshot of time, whose physical body and possibly mind has betrayed them in the mortality of aging. The requirement of us is to explore and understand the person. What are their passions, what did they do when they were younger, their past career, what was their childhood like, what do they enjoy doing now, what are their dreams? If you ask those questions, you will tap into a fountain of knowledge and history as you have never known before. There is much wisdom to be gleaned from the elderly that can never be learned by reading a book or searching online. “Unskew” your perception by taking time to learn “the wisdom of the ages.”
About the author — Kris Pearson has been a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty Integrity Lakes for over 9 years. She is a RSA Realtor (Realtor Senior Advisor)who although represents clients in all areas of residential real estate, has a passion for working with people who are downsizing, helping elderly people and their families make the transition of selling their home and moving to a senior living community and working with families whose loved one has died and whose home needs to be sold to settle the estate. Kris has a wide variety of resources to facilitate these types of moves. She serves on the Master Faculty of Keller Williams Realty Integrity Lakes and teaches a course she wrote called “Wisdom of The Ages: Serving The Elderly” which was certified by MAAR (Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors) for CE credits for Realtors. You can contact Kris by phone or email — Cell phone- 612-709-1304 or [email protected]