March 2017 Newsletter–Self Respect: Essential to Your Survival   

I used to write and lecture about the condescending ways people treated and spoke to seniors. How time flies. As if in an overnight, I find myself in the position of being addressed as “honey” in restaurants or stores. I find myself being told untruths by repairmen, and others who just see me as this old  woman. I don’t like it.

I remember my Dad, after mother died, eating up the attention at the local café, joking with the waitresses during the 2nd or 3rd coffee pours. The socialization was good for him. He knew nearly everyone by name—and they ALL referred to him by his first name, and sometimes by Mr. ( last name). I don’t think anyone called him “honey.” Regarding my Dad, I’m talking about a small town where everyone did know each other. But, about seniors in general—I’m talking about a lack of respect shown to us, and especially women. It seems like stereotypical jokes, cartoons and the like focus more on women.

Some men might not mind being called honey by a waitress or nurse or office personnel; but don’t we still prefer to draw a line when a man assumes it’s ok to call the waitress, or nurse or office staff “honey”. I don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage the patronizing of seniors.

I address these issues in Please Dance at My Funeral: A Celebration of Life in the chapter titled, Honoring Our True Self. I ask, “Can you sustain your sense of self-worth as your future is altered around you?” Our children often appreciate the stability we still offer them in our relationship, and as much as ever before, our grandchildren need the examples we set and influence for honesty, integrity and respect for each other.

“When we have generations treated as if they do not matter, the weave of society unravels under the lack of compassion and respect. Considering a person of any generation who has given and contributed much in their life time as now worthless, or no longer able to contribute, is dishonoring. To revere those who are elders, whose fostering contributed to the strength and infrastructure of the family, is to safeguard the values for future generations. “

“So whether societal values seem changed, it is in our best interest to value ourselves.” For as long as is possible, “It is up to us to designate our finances, to decide what we want our housing and retirement to look like for us—and to not withhold expressing these choices. We look to our society, and our families for a framework that ensures our safety and well being—not unlike what is legally sought for children. We wish to continue our lives with companionship and relationships, community—and especially with dignity. Life at 90 should be no less revered than at any other time in one’s life.”

When you feel your freedom encroached upon, your value disrespected or confidences you have exhibited all your life change to fear for your future, it can send you reeling! The first response might be to convince yourself that you are old, and may no longer be worthy of being treated with respect. Stop right there. Do you respect yourself? If not, that is where you begin. Others will more likely respect you if you are demonstrating worthiness and respect for yourself.  It’s essential for your mental, emotional and physical survival.

“What can you identify as your physical, emotional, mental or spiritual needs at this time? Are they being addressed? If not, what can you choose to do or say to encourage they are met?”