November/December 2016

A New Breed of Old People


Senior citizenship. It's about more than discounts. I have friends who won't accept seniors' discounts because they don't identify themselves as seniors. Until recently I thought that was kind of admirable. But recently I've been concerned. My friends don't want to join Demand a Plan, the CMAs advocacy program for a national seniors' health strategy. They don't want to come with me to hear about Manitoba's Medically Assisted Dying program. They don't want to be involved with seniors organizations and advocacy groups.
These are the boomers. The generation that has pushed for positive change in "the system" for years. But now they don't want to talk about it. It's not that they have no experience. Many of them have seen how their elderly parents are treated by the system. They have a wide range of horror stories. Why aren't they prepared to advocate for a better future for themselves?
I've changed my tune. I identify myself as a senior citizen with the emphasis on citizen. Citizenship comes with rights and responsibilities. I'm not prepared to abdicate my future to a system that refers to frail elderly hospital patients as " bed blockers". Who constantly refer to the need for more "beds" rather than look at changing the "nursing home" model.

We are the elders, the experienced ones; we are maturing, growing adults responsible for the survival of our society. We are not wrinkled babies, succumbing to trivial, purposeless waste of our years and our time. We are a new breed of old people. -Maggie Kuhn, A Dialogue on Age

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