Ageism is nothing new. In North America, it seems like older generations are undervalued. The emphasis is on new, young, and what’s next. Experience, history, and knowledge can fall far behind.
The COVID-19 epidemic is compounding that. Since its outset, the virus has been particularly dangerous to people 65+. People in this age bracket are more likely to have multiple health conditions and weakened immune strength.
What’s worse is that older folks have been continuously made to feel like they don’t matter or are “expendable.” This is evidenced by poor treatment in long-term care facilities, lower-risk, younger individuals flaunting social distancing rules, and avoiding facemasks.
Even the push to open the economy and put a vulnerable population at high risk is a failure to serve older Americans. Did your political leaders ask you before they said you’d be willing to risk your life for the economy?
Feeling valued is critical to physical and mental health. And in this time of isolation, it is even more critical for older generations to feel valued and know that they matter.
There is evidence to suggest that when people feel like they matter, there is less chance of depression or loneliness. There is also an association with a greater sense of well-being and motivation to take better physical care of oneself.
The current climate has shown older folks that they don’t matter. But they do. You do. If you’re feeling down, reach out to family, neighbors, and friends. Build more connections and try to get involved while socially distancing.
Perhaps putting a sign on your lawn asking people to obey social distancing orders or mask-wearing recommendations, letting them know you are at risk. When you see some change, it can make you feel valued or prompt neighbors to check-in.
Having a sense that you are undervalued or unimportant may lead to health issues affecting your heart and mind. Try doing something positive that makes you feel good every day, and be sure to talk frankly to those around you.