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Old people get no respect: Targets of crime, discrimination, rudeness, hate – Ever wonder why?

The real fear of getting old is not having our skin sag, our joints ache or our teeth fall out – it’s the fear of being treated like crap.

Perhaps one man's take on society's rudeness/Thinkstock

Such has largely become the case for the older generation these days, with a litany of society’s rude behavior towards them to prove it.

Let’s start with the Facebook page entitled “I Hate Old People” – that’s right. It’s a page with more than 2,300 members and a captivating photo of an elderly woman giving viewers the bird.

The page description, along with a number of other online rants, complain about everything from old people hair nets to their aroma.

“Old people smell funny,” complained one of my friends who wished to remain anonymous.

“When I was a kid all the old people had their pants pulled up to their armpits, wore suspenders, and treated me like a slave,” he none too fondly recalls.

While my pal cannot explain what he has against suspenders, he does admit that he’s softened his view a bit after meeting a few older folks that he actually likes. We also have to wonder if his turning 54 years old had anything to do with it.

Others remain rude, crude and downright disrespectful to the elderly.

Lois Speelman, a 100-year-old Wal-Mart greeter in Milwaukee learned this firsthand when she was shoved to the ground by an irate shopper. All Speelman was trying to do was determine if the woman had paid for the items in the bottom of her cart.

The shove landed Speelman in the hospital but, although she was bruised she was not broken, and she was back at the Wal-Mart door in four days.

No further information was readily available on the incident but we can bet the shopper probably had not paid for those items in the bottom of her cart.

We can also bet the shopper did not give a dang that Speelman was 100 years old.

Cute old man always hanging around Brooklyn sidewalk/Ryn Gargulinski

In addition to pushes and shoves, older people make great crime targets.

A big, bad purse snatcher in Florida – a burly dude around age 30 – recently grabbed the purse of an 87-year-old woman so violently that she splattered to the sidewalk.

Her fall broke her arm and injured her face while big, bad, burly purse snatcher got away.

Being a crime target is just one of the woes suffered by older folks. They often lose their freedoms, with their houses exchanged for a retirement community cubicle. Their jobs are sometimes axed by penny-pinching employers or they face hardships getting hired at all.

Another one of my friends, a woman in her early 60s who also preferred not to be identified, is youthful, experienced and extremely talented. She secured a pretty good job a few years back, but noted the job hunt was not easy.

“It’s so much harder once you hit a certain age,” she noted. “A lot of employers just want to hire the young chickies.”

Her place of business, actually, is peppered with young-chickie types who spend most of their day snapping gum and yakking on the phone.

When hardworking, life-laboring, loyal yet older people get laid off, like one of my parents’ neighbors did, it can be more than just a hiccup in their careers – it can be the end of it.

Experienced workers deserve pay that matches their level of experience. It’s much easier and cheaper to go the young chickie route, even it means a workplace packed with yakky gum crackers.

And it’s much easier for some to hate and shun older folks rather than facing the true reason behind their hatred: their own brand of blind, narrow fear.

The fear that one day – goodness gracious – they may be one of them.


What do you think?

Is the older generation typically treated like crap or are the above examples anomalies?

Have you witnessed or experienced particularly rude or gracious behavior towards older folks? Please explain.

Do you hate suspenders?


What do you think?

13 thoughts on “Old people get no respect: Targets of crime, discrimination, rudeness, hate – Ever wonder why?

  1. I think old people get the shaft!
    I always thought they deserved MORE respect because they’ve probably seen/been through allot, and they’re wise.

    Of course, my concept of what’s old has changed over the years. I remember when forty sounded so old, now 70 still sounds pretty young!

  2. The kids who put up that Facebook page are probably brats who like to make fun of all sorts of people.  The real problem is not that seniors don’t get respect, but rather that older people often are targets for scam artists.   I’ve heard a couple of horror stories lately.
    And of course, “seniors” come in all varieties. I’ve met people turning 65 who look and act like they are 90, having had a rough life, usually with chronic illnesses.  Then I’ve met many people in their 80’s who don’t look older than 70.  I’ve met folks in their 60’s who are shut-ins and 90-year olds who are more active than I am as a fifty-something.
    For those of us who have many years to go until we are “seniors”, we need to remember the saying, “You are what you were when”.  If you’re miserable now you’ll be really miserable when you’re old.  If you’re happy and active when you’re young, you’ll probably be a happy camper as a senior.  So we all need to work on our attitudes (and on maintaining our good health) so we don’t end up miserable in our later years.
    On that note, I think I’ll take my dog for a walk and enjoy this beautiful day.

  3. As a kid, my parents taught me to respect my elders. I cant say that I always did. At the time most old people scared me, half of the time they didn’t know what they were talking about, the other half I didn’t know what they were talking about, either way I was lost. As a teenager my grandfather use to try to tell me about his life as a kid, I would roll my eyes and think here we go. As an adult, I found myself asking about his past. I was fascinatedby the stories, I thought of things that I had in my life that seemed so everyday, that he never had. No cell phones, lap tops, video games, and on an on. I look at how things have evolved in my 36 years, and not being able to imagine running home from school to listen to the radio program because he didn’t have T.V.

  4. I got a taste of what is to come when I broke my foot.  I took up twice as much space and took twice the time to do anything.  People would make a point of getting where I was going before I got there.  I get my revenge now as although middle age, I outwalk everyone else that is younger than me.

  5. When hardworking, life-laboring, loyal yet older people get laid off, like one of my parents’ neighbors did, it can be more than just a hiccup in their careers – it can be the end of it.

    With the loss of income, it can also be the end of adequate health care and adequate nutrition.  I wonder how people can hear this story and acknowledge the truth of it without considering there is something wrong with a system that will allow the employer to suck the hours of one’s life away laboring to profit the employing class, then discard them when they are no longer profitable to maintain.  It reminds me of laying hens getting sent to slaughter after one year of age, the time when their egg production begins to drop.  You are no more significant as a being to the employing class than this chicken is to the factory farm. 

  6. Oh, I just lost about three paragraphs due to some technicality. That’s no way to treat an old man (smile) who now is taking time out of a hike he had planned to restate what he just lost. Life, huh?
    Okay, I think what I just said a few moments ago before it all went down some deep dark hole, was respect, when it’s true, is earned, no matter what the age of a person. Of course, there will always be those who take advantage of others. If you’re a thief why wouldn’t you snatch a purse of somebody who couldn’t come close to running you down and stomping your sorry butt?
    But I’ve found that if you’re still pursuing life; if you’re still living and loving and caring and taking part, the respect will follow. I’m loving being 72 because it puts me in that class of senior citizens, the wise ones. I use the experiences I’ve had in life as motivation to continue trying to change the world for the better. I’ve faced discrimination, so there’s no way I can be quiet when I see Latinos attacked through hateful laws. I remember what it was like being a child and trying to find your way in life so I still, as I’ve always done, worked in behalf of children – our future. Arizona should do some serious soul searching regarding what a little brown child must be feeling right now. Nothing satisfies me more than when I walk down the street in my neighborhood hearing the children at the school yell out “Hey, Ernie when are you coming by to do some poetry with us?” I love doing drama with kids, improvising scenes out of their lessons and their lives, putting moves and songs in for a little extra pizzaz. Makes learning fun.
    The trick is to not stop doing. I still act. I still write. I still go down to City Hall or to a Board of Education meeting to get my two bits in – over and over again because very little comes easy, especially if it’s dealing with peace and justice.
    Tomorrow I might not be able to do what I do today but tomorrow hasn’t come. And the rewards, the respect, for a full life, come in many forms. For me lately it’s been mind blowing. In October I had the honor of addressing via a rap like poem, my class at the U of A, the class of ’60, at our 50th Reunion Dinner. The next morning I was honored by the UA Black Alumni as an “Outstanding Achiever” at the Dunbar Cultural Center which was the school of my youth, an all black school. The next day I was driven around in a car that could best be described as very “fly” in the Homecoming Parade. Whoo, talking about an old dude feeling good. After such a whirlwind weekend, though, I want you to know, I felt my age on that Southwest bird for that one hour flight to San Diego. And I’ve never felt more respected in my life and I’ve never felt more motivated to keep on keeping on, to keep on giving to my world, to keep on my mission of making it a better place for all beings, human or otherwise. Keeps me young, as they say.
    Oh, well, enough from this old Badger/Wildcat. I’ve got some serious walking to do on a very gorgeous looking southern California day. Hug an old timer, ya’ll. It will make their day. I know because working with children I get many a high five and hug.

    1. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      1. Wake up (smile).

    2. I really enjoy your responses Ernie. You are one of the most genuine readers the Citizen has. Hope to meet you one day.
      It is not my age that is aging, a young 63, but a classical education in history and philosophy that no longer seems to matter as thought chains are so short you wonder if half the citizenry doesn’t need a small dose of Ritalin!  My son was joking with me one day, suggesting that all that discursive thinking would one day become extinct or simply not needed. I suggested that consumerism would die first….. and then I read him two poems! One by Emily Dickinson, the other by Rilke. He laughed then teared a bit. I said, that is poetry!

      1. I suggested that consumerism would die first…..

        Ha!  In honor of Leslie Nielsen, I say, “Shirley you jest”.

  7. Being old is a natural part of the aging process. In our youth driven marketing getting old and death is a scary thought. So aging is made fun of and avoided. My son once told me to ” stop dyeing my hair and act my age”. He was right. With age comes a wisdom that our society badly needs during this time of rapid evolution. Whatever happened to being an “elder”? I know I am an elder and carry the flame of an ancient tradition. Grow up people, be mature, it’s not a disease.

    1. Carry that flame and let it burn widely.

  8. I feel that old people can be just as beneficial to society as anyone else. They have a knowledge of life and an acquired wisdom that you cannot learn in a classroom, only through life experience.
    That said, I have also come to realize that there is much truth in the saying, ‘there is no fool like an old fool’…must be why they are so gullible when it comes to con games.
    PS- suspenders suck. 😉

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