Treatment of the Aged

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Immer Langsam Voran Dass der Krewinkler Landsturm Nachkomment Kann


Always slow up so that a soldier from a small town can be in step with the group.

Like the slow marching soldier who needed time to catch up, so do most of us as we age.  We have to learn to accept ourselves even if others become impatient.  Today’s world is a fast moving world.  We have the computers, the various technologies, gadgets, and other paraphernalia that did not exist a century ago.  If we cannot learn these developments we are left behind.

It is also more pertinent that as Jews we recognize from our historical past that this is more important for us as we grow old.  We have had to cope with rejection/anti Semitism since we were young; add to that the aging process, and we are exposed to double jeopardy!

As we age we are frowned upon, except for the minute proportion of aged who are people of means.  We are considered useless in this fast moving age of technology, speed, and instant knowledge. It is difficult to “fit in” with those who have neither time nor patience to allow us the “luxury” of utilizing our skills in those tasks in which we have capabilities.  We may withdraw and become isolates. 

Many of the older cohorts feel useless, alone, and ignored.  Even if the older individual has all of his or her senses, he feels denigrated and belittled. There is little interest expressed or shown to the individuals who have a hearing loss, have to ask to repeat, who cannot carry heavy loads, who walk slowly and or with difficulty, who have to think to correctly recall a familiar name, and generally do not have the “interesting” experiences of younger folk.

The young have new experiences and a future.  They do not think about those who have come before them and who have given them the opportunity to have the advantages and privileges that the older generation has given them.  The wisdom that has discovered and delivered opportunities that they would not have had, if it had not been for those who came before them, is disregarded.

It is not uncommon nor unusual that people like to associate with folk who are of their own age and who have similar interests.  Those of similar ages and stages feel more comfortable when they can identify with their age and stage cohorts.  Students can understand the needs of each other; middle and old agers are frequently in similar situations, have similar ambitions, similar hardships and more.  It is not unusual therefore to want to mingle with their own group, whom they more easily understand.

The few remaining near victims of  the Nazis, the Holocaust survivors, are convinced of their own minimalization, their own inferiority, no matter their abilities, their education, their knowledge or their accomplishments.  Their misfortune has them convinced of their own inferiority, to the point of becoming lemmings and victims of the sadists who enjoy minimalizing these unfortunate human beings. These nearly same tactics can to a lesser degree be attributed to other aging persons.  Their children frequently domineer them and want to become their unwanted pseudo mothers, forcing their own wishes upon the frequently belittled victim.

It is important for both perpetrator and victim to remember that if it were not for the parent they would not be alive, and for the besieged victim to recognize his accomplishments and that he has more wisdom and life experiences than his offspring will ever have.  Both should also remember that the Holocaust survivor's offspring will never have to feel the inhumane degradation and near death experiences that the Holocaust victim had to suffer.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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