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Listen and Speak Up: We Deserve Respect At Every Age

“Your face is marked with lines of life, put there by love and laughter, suffering and tears. It's beautiful.” ― Author Lynsay Sands

“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” — Poet Robert Browning

Two quotes that describe aging in just a few words! And the last part of Browning’s quote gives us the hope of enjoyment in life as we age. But, while we may have hope, the way we are sometimes treated when we are older gives us pause to reflect.

I recently received a call from a potential client in his late 80s. He was interested in my health advocacy services because he felt that his health care provider was not listening to him, and he hoped I could help him.

What he said next has haunted me since I heard it, enough so I felt the need to write about it. He said that he didn’t like how he was treated just because he was old. “They may not mean to but they treat old people terrible,” he said. “They don’t want to take the time to listen to us. It is not right.”

This is not the first time I have heard this, nor will it be the last. If you live a long life, growing old is part of it and to be treated in a less than respectful manner just because you have aged has to stop! Whether our encounters are with a health care provider, the cashier at Walmart or our grandchildren, seniors and the elderly deserve the same respect as any other citizen. No matter our age, when we see or hear this kind of disrespect, we must speak up for each other and for ourselves.

If you see an older person being treated poorly, speak up for them. Smile, be patient and remember — the gift of a long life is old age. When you get there, you will understand. In the meantime, let’s be patient with each other. Bestselling author, speaker, and activist in the fields of human potential and human rights Bryant H. McGill said that one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.

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