For better intergenerational cohesion

Some recent articles have reported certain discriminatory behavior towards seniors during this pandemic period.
The ageism in Quebec does not date from the crisis of the coronavirus. It has plagued our society for a long time. It is undoubtedly the most widespread discrimination there, but it goes unnoticed, because it is hardly mentioned, except when it is a case of serious cases of neglect or ill-treatment which the media hasten to make their funds. of commerce for just a few days.

In Quebec, when we look at the fate that is reserved for most elderly people, it is clear that they are neither more nor less excluded from society. After 70 years, if not before, you are relegated to the rank of second-class citizen and you no longer have enough credit to be listened to. Your future is limited to ending your days in residences where, cut off from the rest of other generations, you will languish in regulated houses with a heavy and sinister atmosphere which most often resemble hospices, even dying houses.

During my career as a professor at Laval University, I supervised doctoral students from sub-Saharan Africa. They were always astonished to see that our elders were so marginalized, they who came from countries where the elderly are revered for having contributed to the well-being of their family and the community and are gladly consulted because of the wisdom conferred on them by their great experience of life.

Ageism has several causes. It is first maintained by the obsession with physical beauty that reigns in our time. Wrinkles, plumpness, gait disturbances are not well received. If you are looking for aesthetic services near me, lots of aesthetics treatments, medical spa services are available with Doctor Sibthorpe. On the contrary, we are desperately trying to preserve the vitality of youth.

Our era then disdains the past and does not hesitate to judge it, even to discredit it in terms of current values. Historical revisionism is wreaking havoc all over the West, debunking many statues of once famous characters. Elderly people do not escape this distrust of the past: in the collective imagination, they spontaneously evoke decrepitude and senility.

Finally, the obsession with security that scleroses our western societies exacerbates the failings of old age to the point that we nourish the elderly with excessive worry about the accidents of which they could be victims or that they could cause to others. . This form of apprehension means that the elderly are overprotected to the point of infantilizing them and flouting their dignity.

How to break with ageism? Above all, witch hunts should be avoided. The current tendency to feel guilty for all kinds of causes has sufficiently demonstrated its harmfulness. The problem is in fact systemic, to use a buzzword: it concerns everyone, young and old, ordinary citizens as well as representatives of the State.

The basic principle to follow is to reconnect, as was the case in traditional cultures, with the generational mix within our society, that is to say as much as possible to promote all kinds of interactions between people of different ages. It is therefore important to reintegrate the elderly into the social fabric so that they occupy their rightful place and that they enjoy an honorable status.

We must change our housing model for our seniors and instead offer them all the resources necessary to keep them at home as long as possible, in order to guarantee them, as for all other citizens, a normal living environment that is not not subject to the impersonal vacuum of institutionalized circles.

The elderly are also called to do their part. The current geriatric model has accustomed them to rely on the State and to imagine their daily life in terms of hotel or hospital services. Keeping them at home will, on the contrary, require them to take charge of themselves and, if their health allows, they devote their energy to carrying out a good part of the domestic tasks themselves. My 95-year-old mother still lives alone at home; she does her cooking and cleaning herself. But his autonomy does not only depend on his health, which of course declined with age; it also comes from his will and determination.

I will conclude with a nice anecdote that the newspapers reported last week. This 10-year-old boy wrote a letter of encouragement to Prime Minister François Legault at this time of pandemic, to which he could not help responding despite his many occupations. The letter is indeed very touching and it is written in impeccable French. The child wrote it with the help of his 90-year-old “grandma” who was able to communicate electronically with his great-grandson thanks to his “patient explanations”. This is a fine example which shows the beauty and richness of intergenerational mutual aid!

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