Where opinions matter – older people have a right to a louder voice
Seniors, with much learned wisdom, often feel like they can’t speak for themselves or are mostly ignored.
Two recent responses to the round table: “No one wants to listen”.
“You will be called old buddies.”
“Don’t dare say you hate tattoos or stay left when walking,” a friend laughed half-jokingly.
For the most part, seniors are not listened to by politicians, employers and, of course, the younger generations. It is an age-old complaint.
This newspaper, of course, and talkback radio are two regular forums where older people are not only heard, but encouraged to voice their opinions, speak out, ask questions and voice their concerns.
But, with our aging population and the growing number of seniors, seniors deserve a stronger voice.
Who is ready to listen and include the perspective of seniors in planning for the future? Elders are part of the immediate future and carry the knowledge and lessons of the past.
Yes, some views will be disconnected or wrong, but so will the views of many young people, planners, politicians and employers. The contribution of the elderly should be taken into account.
From personal knowledge, in the workplace, few seniors are invited to speak to the younger brigades. Or asked to come back after retirement to give briefings. Fertile knowledge withers on the proverbial vine.
Of course, not all seniors make a good speaker. Very young either. No one wants to hear repeated and endless lectures. Managers need to select the right people.
Managers should monitor proposed senior speakers, as they should for all speakers, overseeing the content (to keep it concise and relevant) and the length of the presentation.
Older people bring experience and knowledge, and many make fun social speakers. Many older people have a good sense of humor and can make fun of themselves.
The gems of seniors can boost morale and break down age barriers. Once the ice is broken, young people may feel open to approaching older people for advice and information.
Indeed, the elderly are discriminated against. With their voices not taken into account, they are cut off from the big picture of society.
Having started working full time when I was 16, I had no idea of anything and no one gave any instructions or substantive briefings. Young workers in all departments of the newspaper learned on the job by blundering. And we were introduced to only one or two other workers.
Mistakes have been made, lessons have been learned.
Nothing was explained: what is it? Where did it end? What was the deadline? Who are all these people in the building and what are they doing? What is the aim of the company?
Newcomers were not invited to give their opinion and were left to fend for themselves. Young people need to be included, to feel useful and encouraged to stay in the company.
This is where seniors can be brought – those who are still working or those who have just retired – for short periodic briefings. Lightweight chats with all questions encouraged.
The result: more inclusive workplaces, fewer age barriers and a smoother and more efficient integration of staff.
Older people are discriminated against and the symbolism will not. Old people don’t want to be put in place to make it look good. They should be treated with respect by their colleagues, authorities and social organizations.
Younger people might be surprised at the value that older people can bring. Many older people leave their workplaces, sports clubs, social groups and educational institutions with valuable knowledge and experience.
Many are happy to volunteer to return to workplaces, schools, hospitals, sports and social groups to explain what they have learned and experienced; the pitfalls and the lighter moments.
You just have to ask.
What do you think?
Send an email to [email protected] with Opinion in the subject line.