A compelling video recently surfaced on YouTube that quickly gained traction with worldwide viewers. It was a clip of a menacing young man pushing, and shoving, his way through the streets, bullying anyone and everyone in his way. After knocking several people to the ground, he came upon a 54-year-old man, approaching the man with an aggressive attitude. The older man, just a Baby Boomer, surprised him however, by quickly assuming a fighter’s stance and delivering a hard punch to the young man’s chin, knocking him to the ground, unconscious. It was a graphic and painful illustration of how “older” people are often underestimated by younger people.
After the age of 45 or so, many people feel detached from the prevailing attitudes of our youth-oriented culture. They’re also likely to feel that younger people underestimate their abilities, experiences, and relevance, not realizing how much, those who are older than them, have accomplished in their lives. By the time a person becomes a senior this underestimating approach becomes even more common, yet we know how dangerous this attitude can be.
“My mom worked until she was 75 years old,” says Lynn Colbert, a teacher who has now assumed the role of caring for her 85-year-old mother who suffers from diabetes and dementia. “One thing I will never forget is all that she accomplished in her life and her depth of knowledge about so many things, even with dementia.”
This is an important lesson for all with aging loved ones. When caring for seniors remember not only is their experience relevant, but lifelong experience can surface in surprising ways, even in later years. Older people do not want to be dismissed, but instead want to be respected and admired for what they know, and have accomplished in their lives.
Like the young man who found out the hard way, older people still have the capacity to knock out your erroneous perceptions by delivering a big and startling surprise.