Contempt for the Old
law penalizes criminal behavior, but not, as in many dictatorships, the beliefs,
opinions, or ethnic origin of the citizens.
is, however, one exception to this. That is the crime of being old.
age is an offense which is not tolerated in this country, and for which the
punishment is imprisonment, theft, abandonment, rejection, and contempt.
are about 20,000 suicides in the United States each year, many of which are
brought on by the manner in which the old are treated here.
among the old who are sent to
so-called nursing homes soon find that they will be serving a life sentence for
which there is no escape. The manner in which this is usually achieved comes
about when an old person falls and breaks his hip or otherwise is hospitalized.
During this hospitalization, the adult children and other relatives sell the old
personís house, so that on being released from the hospital the old woman or
old man have nowhere to go, no home, and no place to stay other than a nursing
homes are of course not homes, nor do they nurse anyone. In nursing homes, the
so-called patients spend almost all the time in bed, both during the day and at
night, sleeping so as to avoid thinking about their abandonment and their
rejection. Many nursing home patients skip breakfast or even lunch while lying
in bed. Nursing home patients donít speak to each other. That is why almost
all nursing homes are places of utter silence. Nursing home patients are often
drugged and placed in rocking chairs in front of television, where they fall
home patients share a room with another patient who theyíve never seen before
and who may be obnoxious to them. Yet the rest of their lives they have to live
with someone who makes their lives miserable. Nursing home patients are also
subject to theft. Anyone who enters a nursing home and brings with him jewelry,
money, or anything of value at all will find it stolen within a day or two by
those who work there. The Social Security pensions of nursing home patients are
cashed by the owners, so that the patient never sees that money and is therefore
destitute and totally dependent on what nursing home management will let him
are some relatives who occasionally visit an old person in a nursing home, which
does alleviate the pain a little bit. Yet, in sum, imprisonment in a nursing
home is a nightmare which no human being deserves, even if he has committed the
crime of being old.
number of old folks in nursing homes are a minority. Most of those who are still
married live together in their own home, or, if widowed, live alone. Those who
stay in their own homes are of course much more fortunate than those who end up
in nursing homes. Nevertheless they too suffer a great deal from abandonment.
only old people, but people of all ages contemplate the effort they have made on
the part of their children and grandchildren. It is difficult to forget the
struggle to raise the next generation, the extra effort and favors done children
and grandchildren, and the love expended on their behalf. Yet in old age,
children and grandchildren generally forget, or want to forget, the benefits
they received from the previous generation, and therefore abandon them and do
not speak to them any longer, do not visit them, and generally pretend that they
donít know them.
time ago an old woman placed an ad in a major city newspaper in which she
promised to pay one dollar to anyone who would call her. The ad included her
telephone number and the comment that no one had spoken to her in months and
that she was totally and absolutely isolated. That is a terrible fate which many
old people have to endure until they die. There are many who are found weeks and
months dead in their house or apartment, having been absolutely forgotten or
ignored by relatives, including adult children.
folks also are the target of contempt. This is particularly visible in doctors'
offices. Here the employees of doctors who view the patients as plantation
slaves scream out the first names of the patient to be seen next. In order to
exhibit contempt for the patients, doctors usually let patients wait for hours.
It is by no means unusual for patients to wait even four hours in the doctor's
office before being seen for five minutes or less. This technique gives doctors
a second income called a psychic income. That income consists of reducing the
patient to a nonperson by letting him wait so long. The doctor enjoys the
superiority that he collects from those whom he treats with so much arrogance.
This kind of contempt is not limited to doctors' offices.
people everywhere are often treated like morons and are rejected out
of hand because of their wrinkled faces, their white hair, their bent backs, and
their shuffling gait.
a culture which holds old age in contempt, it is difficult to avoid the
treatment just outlined. The only solution to this kind of degradation collected
for the crime of being old is to be productive.
in old age is difficult to attain unless one has been productive for a lifetime.
Those who retire from any occupation at 65 or 70 are usually confronted with
nothing to do. They may travel a while, but soon find that unsatisfactory,
thereby wasting the remainder of their lives playing cards or watching
There are a few who have written and published books over a lifetime and who can continue to do so in old age. There are others who occupied their spare time participating in musical orchestras and continue to do that too in their old age. Some people paint, having done this for many years, while others start a business of their own and enjoy meeting customers and watching it grow..
activities are indeed a shield against rejection, insult, and contempt, and
alleviate the pain that the crime of old age has brought upon them.