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The Ones To Stop Stereotyping
The clock was near striking midnight when the doorbell finally rang. “Ding Dong. Ding Dong.” I ran to the door and gave my Uncle Jeff a big bear hug.
“What took you so long?” I asked
“Some old granny driving ten miles an hour was right in front of me for half the way down!” he exclaimed.
I retreated from the hug. That was when I realized there is an endless list of stereotypes against elder people. Whether it is they can’t drive, they can’t see, they can’t hear, or they are grumpy, these stereotypes exist.
But no matter where these stereotypes are taking place there is a simple solution to the problem.
When interviewing a class of eighth grade students, 90% of them felt that there are existing stereotypes towards elder people. When asked, Caroline, a student, provided a similar experience to mine. She says that when she was in the car with her dad, an elder woman driving in front of her simply forgot to turn off her turn signal. She explained how a man in the next lane over yelled out his window, “You can’t drive!” It caused a commotion on the road, and of course, the elder woman’s feelings were hurt.
I want to ask you, how many times have you been forgetful? How many times have you been in a car with someone that made a driving mistake? Accidents happen. They are a part of life. It is a horrifying thought that when an elder person makes a simple, human mistake they are given the title of a poor, reckless driver. Think before you speak about out the elder population, or next time your parent drives through a red light, you just have to yell at them to get off the road, and lecture them on their poor driving skills. See how they feel.
Bad driving isn’t the only stereotype given to elders, but poor vision is as well. Now more than ever, more and more people are wearing eye glasses to help vision problems. I know in my family, the majority of my relatives wear eye glasses or contacts of some sort. Several of my teachers, friends, and role models do the same. Clearly, a massive number of people are wearing eye glasses. Our society needs to stop labeling elder people as the ones who “can’t see”, when in fact, people of all ages “can’t see.” Are you saying that nursing homes need to add more carrots to meal time? Vision deficiency is a problem against the entire human race. Stop giving the elders the label as the ones with poor sight. Think before you speak. Next time you go to say an elder can’t see, ask yourself, am I wearing glasses?
And the list of stereotypes continues. It doesn’t stop with bad driving, or poor eyesight, rather it continues with below par hearing. Elders are said to be the people in our society that cannot hear well. But, how many times have you driven down a street and seen a “Deaf Child” sign? Many, I am sure. These signs exist because people ranging from the ages of toddlers to the age of death, suffer from hearing issues. Why do you think hearing aids exist? They certainly are not for fun and games. There are times in everyday situations where someone asks “can you repeat that?” If I ask to hear something an addition time, I am not labeled with the” cannot hear” white, sticky, tag from staples. Why are elders? Our bodies are machines, and once in a while they need a bit of re-oiling. I am telling you a fact; elders are not the only ones that have trouble hearing once in a while. Stop stereotyping them. Did you hear that?
The road continues to be an uphill push as there is another stereotype that elders come face-to-face with. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy, is a name elders are often stereotyped behind their back. Everyone has a bad day. It is only natural. Haven’t you ever heard the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter? “Cause you had a bad day. You’re taking one down.” It is a human fact that the emotions of anger, impatience, and frustration show their colors. It happens to all of us, but when these feelings creep up on an elder in society, their reputation turns from sweet to nasty. Eating is natural, sleeping is natural, but having a bad, is according to stereotypers, apparently a behavior from an alien planet.
Elders face all types of name calling and stereo-typing, but all these irrational conclusions about the elder population is just another form of racism. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of racism is “prejudice or discrimination directed against someone”. When interviewed, 2/3 of eighth graders say they have a person in their life, an elder, that acts as a role model to them. From interviews, it is gathered that these elders have a special place in the students’ hearts. And like those students I have the same situation. To me my grandma and grandpa are my role models, and even more so an inspiration. They are the people in my life that make up the other half of my heart beat, and the ones that share the composition of my spirit. No one, not myself, or the 2/3 of eighth graders interviewed want to see their loved ones labeled with negative, prejudice ideas. When your loved ones are hurt, you are hurt. When I hear people say elders have bad attitudes, I am hurt. When people assume elders can’t see, I am offended. We can all relate to that. Racism is always taking a place in the news, because it is a dangerous issue. We can stop adding fuel to the fire. We can put it out. We can end racism towards elders by stopping stereotypes towards them.
It is due to these excessive stereotypes against elders, and racism they face, that an article has been published in the Star Ledger, providing information about elder abuse. Exploring the Signs of Elder Abuse by Victoria M. Dalton, goes into detail about elder emotional abuse. Dalton, explains this as “intimidation, humiliation, and harassment.” Don’t you think that yelling out the window that an elder is a bad driver, is humiliating? Don’t you think that automatically assuming the older people get means they have bad eyesight is a form of harassment? Don’t you think, the racist comments elders hear are intimidating? The labeling of elders in our society has reached such heights, that we have categorized it as a type of abuse. Rather, than continue down an ugly path, it is easier to simply stop!
It can be as small, and as harmless as a comment like the one my uncle made, or as big and hurtful as full on elder abuse. No matter the size, stereotyping towards elders needs to stop. Accusations are hurtful. The majority of the time, untrue. Let’s cut that 90% of students’ opinions that stereotypes against elders exist in half. Let’s give the elders in our society a chance at positive remaining years in their life. Let’s change that uphill battle against stereotyping into a downhill walk in the park. Erase your mind of the hurtful labels. Erase stereotyping towards elders.