Hissy Fit - May 2023 - Hello! I’m Old: And I’m Still Cool
...because everyone needs one every once in awhile
April 2023 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
My mother is 92 years old, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
She is a rock star.
Unfortunately, I am one of the few who thinks so.
Having an elderly mom has brought to my attention how much the elderly are discarded and disrespected by society, people, and especially young people. I realize some—maybe most—92-year-olds have declined cognitively and physically, but my mom is still sharp. However, most people treat her like she has no idea where or who she is. When I take her to the doctor, they ask me the questions. I tell them to ask her, she’s right here. But there is another problem, she will describe her ailment or pain and they don’t believe her. I’m not saying they don’t check it out and send her for the proper tests, they just make her feel like she isn’t in touch with her own body.
I see this in society in general. Our Pink Partini goers skew a bit older—probably the majority between 40 and 70. I have been told competitive magazines tell people the Partini is for “old” people. Well, I couldn’t be more fine with that! Do they realize we live in a retirement community, and the Partini is an exact replica of the population? Do they not realize that women are cool no matter their age? My mom is amazing at 92, my aunt is interesting at 98, and my writing accountability partner and best friend is 82. Hell, I’m 57, and I’m fun! It makes me mad because these so called other magazines want this age group to read them and shop with their advertisers, but they don’t want to party with them? Whatever!
There was a time when society respected the elderly, but I guess our disposable mentality now includes people. If it doesn’t look shiny and new, get a new one. Not so fast; 34% of Americans are over 50—the majority. This demographic also represents the majority of the wealth. This is the age group where stability comes into play, and at the bottom of this age group are people supporting their adult children in droves, and at the middle of this age group, many are even raising their grandchildren.
My mother knows she is getting up there, but it is sad when you have conversation, wisdom, experiences, and fun memories inside of you and no one even asks you a question. What is wrong with people? She and I laugh all the time. We can talk for an hour like it’s 10 minutes. I call her for advice. She’s my go-to when I feel down. She is still important and relevant and alive! So is your elderly neighbor, your grumpy grandpa, the ladies in hats at church and the driver in front of you going 30! They all still count!
Talk about writing material falling in your lap. The day I sat down to write this article about the elderly getting no respect, my writing partner (remember she is 82) comes over and proceeds to tell me a funny story. One of her friends, also an octogenarian, who happens to be brilliant—Yale educated—lucid, and physically active, decided to take a walk down the paths along the Cross Island Parkway on Hilton Head. Of course some passerby reported him as a “lost Alzheimers patient.” (I’m not bashing them; I’m sure they were trying to help.)
However, when the police arrived, they wouldn’t listen to this man’s perfectly fine reasoning. I know he is intelligible and quite the conversationalist because I just spent time with him at a birthday party. They asked him questions like “Do you know your name?” “What year is it?” “Where do you live?” I understand they have a job to do, and I’m thankful for the police (I want them more funded), but come on, it’s pretty easy to decipher between lucid and demented, especially when your elderly subject is clearly conversing concisely and using an advanced vocabulary that more than likely very few police officers hear in their daily stops.
He wasn’t mad at the police but it was a disturbing experience. He was “profiled” because of his age, and it made him feel old—really old.
Why can’t we all decide right now to build up our elderly? They helped build this country. They raised you and me. They are important. We need them! Please, the next time you interact with an older person, treat them like a regular person because they are. Age is not a disability. Let’s all proceed with this in mind.
Age is not a disability. Let’s all proceed with this in mind.