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Careforce: Senior population an asset, not a liability

There's a lot of doom and gloom about our aging population. But maybe the problem isn't our aging population: maybe it's just the way we think about it.

By Joel Stoddart, Careforce Home Health Services (www.careforce.ca)

Open up the newspaper.

Which one, you ask? Doesn’t matter – any recent newspaper will do. Now, flip through the pages at a leisurely pace and I bet you’ll see a headline something like the following:

‘Seniors living longer, prompting drastic rise in continuing care spending’

‘Elderly woman scammed out of life savings’

‘Police hunt driver who hit elderly man in wheelchair’

Perfectly legitimate headlines, right? Well. kind of. Although many of these headlines are technically correct, they actually do us all a great disservice. If you go back and read the headlines again, what you’ll notice is that they – like many news stories – subtly characterize seniors as a one big helpless liability to our society. We are unintentionally led to conclude that seniors cost taxpayers money, are generally defenseless, and are bystanders along the beautiful road of life.

Just pause for a minute. Think about the last time you heard about a senior citizen doing something to defy negative stereotypes – say, running a marathon or auditioning for Canada’s Got Talent.If you’re like many of us, you probably chuckled to yourself thinking ‘that’s so sweet’, as if to imply that the senior had no business doing something so awesome.

To nail it home, consider how seniors are so often portrayed in the media. They are often presented as old, cranky, and longing for the good old days of yore (think Archie Bunker, the old guys in the TD commercials, or the late Andy Rooney – although to be fair, Andy Rooney was cranky by his own admission).

All these stereotypes build up after awhile,creating a widespread perception of ‘how seniors are’. But what if we turned our thinking on its ear?

You see, in our business we know that while aging (and its sometimes negative consequences) are an inevitable part of life,seniors are no liability. Rather, they are one of the greatest assets we have. Just think of the many ways seniors contribute to our communities:

The list goes on and on, but you get the picture. The sooner we begin to think about seniors as an asset – and not a liability – the sooner we can get over our unfounded fear of the ‘grey tsunami’.