Throw­ing ageism out the win­dow

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Senior -

A SEP­A­RATE statute for the el­derly will also go a long way in chang­ing neg­a­tive stereo­types about se­nior cit­i­zens which re­sult in age-dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices in the work­force, as well as in so­ci­ety.

Al­though ad­vances in med­i­cal sciences have in­creased se­niors’ life ex­pectancy and qual­ity of life, stereo­types that equate old age with frailty and di­min­ished ca­pac­ity largely pre­vail.

A law that ad­vo­cates for and clearly de­fines the rights of se­niors can help elim­i­nate neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes to­wards age­ing.

“Ageist at­ti­tudes por­tray older peo­ple as be­ing un­able to make their own de­ci­sions. They of­ten strip se­niors of their rights to make im­por­tant de­ci­sions about their own fi­nances, em­ploy­ment, liv­ing ar­range­ments, fam­ily life and par­tic­i­pa­tion in com­mu­nity.

“Of­ten, the in­ten­tion is well-mean­ing. Con­cerned fam­i­lies make de­ci­sions for, rather than with, their el­derly par­ents or grand­par­ents – rang­ing from what they eat to how they spend their money and even when to sell their home – be­cause they worry for their well-be­ing and safety.

“How­ever, se­niors de­serve au­ton­omy in mak­ing de­ci­sions that af­fect their lives. This in­cludes de­ci­sions about med­i­cal care, liv­ing ar­range­ments and in­her­i­tance, which can be made ahead of time.

“For ex­am­ple, an el­derly per­son who is di­ag­nosed with early de­men­tia or Alzheimer’s dis­ease may dis­cuss with doc­tors and his fam­ily mem­bers what the best op­tions are for him be­fore his dis­ease af­fects his abil­ity to make de­ci­sions him­self. Doc­tors and fam­ily mem­bers then have the duty to im­ple­ment his de­ci­sion which al­lows the se­nior dig­nity.

“We hope that hav­ing a spe­cific law for se­niors will change the gen­eral per­cep­tion of se­niors from be­ing a group that re­quires char­ity or wel­fare to be­ing seen as mem­bers of so­ci­ety that have just as much rights as ev­ery­one else,” says Dr Zu­lazhar.

Ageist at­ti­tudes that por­tray se­niors as be­ing frail and un­able to fend for them­selves should be done away with.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.