“If Millennials can have opportunities to see the good in seniors and celebrate it, we can use our talents to help a generation who truly need our support and conviction for change. And by doing so, we can showcase our power to create a new reality for senior life and perhaps, overcome our fear of being one. ”
It is not surprising that people in their 50’s & 60’s have greater interest in senior issues as they inch closer to old age themselves and conversely, that 20/30-somethings barely pay attention to anything to do with seniors. (This is, of course, generally-speaking). And the concept of tension from a generation gap is certainly not new. However, what IS alarming is the fear of the “other” that exists between today’s Millennials & today’s seniors (“The Silent Generation”) and how this disconnect is not helping the senior plight.
Where’s The Beef?
A 2014 Forbes article explored this “beef” that Millennials have with seniors and why it may exist. To summarize, Millennials fear the aging process, do not believe in age-driven special treatment, have a disdain for traditional institutions and moral bindings, and are plain bitter against seniors because they interfere with fast-paced life (being irritated at seniors for driving the exact speed limit and slowing down the Whole Foods line is the norm). How could this attitude not negatively impact what is already a sad society for seniors? Seniors are already quietly “tucked away” in nursing homes, forgotten, and undervalued. This intergenerational disdain certainly is not going to lead to an improvement for them.
How We Can Spur Change
Let me say that I am a Millennial, and I don’t think we are a “bad generation” because of our ageist views; we possess wonderful and unique qualities. And we, too, get knocked by older generations (i.e. “Snowflakes”). But the irony that we are so committed to social justice and yet seemingly okay with ageism is both contradictory and concerning. Sure, the general truth is that seniors are slower-moving. They are more attached to their religious traditions and they do have the oh-so-dreaded wrinkles. But the crucial point here is that we must recognize that this is not ALL they are. This is not WHO they are. And this is what we must show to ignite change and to create a movement of celebration instead of denigration.
The Key is Soul Connection
The way that Love of Gray seeks to do this is to take action in a positive way — to connect the generations, and by doing so, connect the souls of the people “behind the age.” Souls transcend generational gaps. I had the opportunity to connect with my grandfather on this deeper level, a special bond that moved me to care for seniors at a young age. But not all of us have that advantage. If Millennials can have opportunities to see the good in seniors and celebrate it, we can use our talents to help a generation who truly need our support and conviction for change. And by doing so, we showcase our power to create a new reality for senior life and perhaps, overcome our fear of being one.