Old age is not for sissies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I read a quote from Bette Davis this week, "Old age is not for sissies." I am surprised that television producers have not capitalized on that fact yet.

Don't you imagine that some scriptwriter, probably bereft of pride, compassion and dignity, could easily create a geriatric version of reality television?

For instance, seniors could have their very own episodes of Fear Factor wherein they have to face their greatest fears like being forced into early retirement, losing driving privileges, living on fixed incomes, or losing friends and family. Or maybe they could star in Survivor. They apparently are pretty good at that.

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They could be put into a tiny apartment, given $53.00 in food stamps each month, a bus pass and a Medicare card and told to make it own their own. Then they could use their wits and coping skills to see how long they can last. This doesn't sound like entertainment, does it?

But we have parents, grandparents and all those other people who helped mold our lives playing these roles every day. It's not reality televisionit's just reality.

As each generation lives longer than the one before it, we are faced with this hard truth. How will our elders survive their last years, and what will we do about it? Is it the government's responsibility, the church's burden … who is in charge here?

I think we all are or at least should be. We need to make time and room for them in our lives. We no longer can turn the extended futures of our loved ones over to someone else.

We must all step to the front with love and kindness to assume the responsibility and count it a privilege to do so. I don't want my family members or yours to feel they have to be tough at a time when they are growing weary. They were tough all that time they were raising us.

It's their turn to be nurtured and upheld. They've earned it. That doesn't make them sissies.

Carolyn McGinty can be reached via email at mcgintcar@volexpress.com