CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF SENIOR LIVING
I think, as a culture, we have always sidelined other cultures or those groups in the minority. It has always been easy to disparage that which we saw as different, that over which we had power. We have reached the 21st century and have put many of those stereotypes behind us. Granted there are still people and areas of the country that simply aren’t progressing along with the rest…
I had a chance to watch a moving documentary that examines loss, love, family and rejection that seniors feel as they travel on that emotional and financial roller coaster as they age. Afraid to go to senior care communities (I think many of us share that sentiment!), they survive within small groups, supporting each other as best they can.
Loss is seen by the rejection and loneliness they feel as they discover family members who don’t want to take part in their lives. We can feel the love they share with each other as they laugh, cry and care for each other. The audience can feel the power of these feelings. I heard more than a few sniffs from tears from the audience as a testament of the feelings the subjects felt on the screen.
If there is anything I have picked up, it is realizing that as different as these people are, they are still the same as the rest of us. They have the same worries as we do as we age, plus a host of worries that they shouldn’t have to burden themselves with: acceptance.
The movie Gen Silent is about aging. Not traditional aging, but the aging of senior LGBT folks. They shouldn’t have to worry about nuances in a care community that make them feel less than human. These are members of our society! Your neighbors, doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, mechanics and teachers have paid their dues, served their country, raised families and paid taxes. The fact that their DNA is different shouldn’t be a yardstick for the level of care and emotional comfort they should get as they age.
Many are going back into the closet during the most vulnerable part of their lives. Why? Because they want equal treatment, and by being gay, they know they won’t get it.
If there is anything that upsets me, it is this fundamental unfairness. I work in a retirement community. I know that we have the best form of retirement around. To hear these horror stories so fraught with anxiety and stress just doesn’t make sense to me.
These people are different through a difference of biology. They deserve to enjoy their golden years in a comfortable, stress-free and colorful environment.
To paraphrase Martin Luther King: I have a dream that one day, people, of all orientations, will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the contents of their DNA, but by the content of their character.
Click here for the movie trailer for Gen Silent. If it is screened near you, take a look at it. It will make you look at the world differently.