Why do old people squeeze so easily
About the attractiveness of senior work
The celebrations on the occasion of the awarding of the Golden Globe 2017. The actress Meryl Streep is honored for her life's work. She gives a passionately flaming speech for democracy and human rights and human dignity, for an open society. A great woman: I love her films and her humor, I admire her experience in the film business and above all her courage to position herself publicly against the new President of the USA and I think she is a great woman.
And: Ms. Streep is 67 years old.
Do you have a woman like that in mind when you think about senior work in your community? Well, maybe not quite as glamorous and famous, but with just as much experience in life, at work. A woman who has had to make bold decisions that will affect her lifethinking about someone who is creative, takes responsibility and wants to share their thoughts with others?
If we are honest, we have to admit that we tend to think of women and men in need of care or care. Or to people who want to be entertained and cared for on our senior afternoons. Perhaps we see them as those who are gradually losing their autonomy, who need our consolation, our care.
That may be right, there are people who need our sympathy and support: Who, if not we as Christians have to look after them, should we keep an eye on those who need help? After all, it is us who should be against the performance-based thinking, the need to be forever fit, the usefulness-based thinking against living and working. Finally have all their value in our community, which is not measured by performance; that is our credo. We have to be aware that even people who depend on us remain independent personalities with resources until their last breath.
When you lead a group, how do you feel about your relationships with the group participants? You want to give something to people, but have you ever measured the value of the group based on what you get? And I don't just mean gratitude. Hand on heart: Do you meet the guests of your groups at eye level?
Nobody likes being in need of help
In addition, people find it difficult to come out as needy. Too often it is seen as a flaw not to do everything alone. The post-war generation that we meet in the senior afternoons is the one who had to do so much (alone), who as children were often left to fend for themselves in the war and post-war years. Young women who got by without men and rebuilt their city together and managed the economic miracle.
"There are only old people there"
We smile at the elderly who do not want to go to a senior afternoon because: “There are only old people there”. We hear a denial of one's own age, not wanting to believe that one belongs to this target group. But we could also interpret this statement quite differently: “I don't want to belong to a group that is defined solely by the age of its participants.” Or: “I don't just want to be with old people; I am old myself. I am interested in the passions, worries and ideas of all generations. ”And:“ I don't just want to look at my own wrinkled navel while there is so much to do in the community, in the world. I don't just want to consume aesthetics, I'd rather have my own poems heard. I don't just want to be entertained while the young people in our community do not know what to do with themselves after leaving school, the children and women in the refugees' accommodations are bored, the garden of the community hall is overgrown ... ”The list could go on.
The eye of the needle or "I would never go into my own senior circle?" *
Older people do not want to squeeze their way through the old age needle eye that we offer them. It's a filter that keeps our groups clear and unattractive for many.
I claim that senior work from this perspective is not "sexy" - neither for those who offer it, nor ultimately for a large number of aging community members.
* Original sound of a pastor from senior work.
Change of perspective
What is preventing us from broadening our view of senior work, including those who are commonly referred to as “young old people”. Whereby we do that Young should relate less to the years of life than to the willingness and opportunity to get involved, have a say and shape the future.
Why do we even need the drawers like women, men, senior citizens? What are the arguments against working with adults? And if something all target groups in a community have in common - from the baptized to the senior citizens - then it is getting older.
Sure, those who have no children to look after or who are at work until 6 p.m. are more likely to come to an afternoon offer. But they do not come because they are old, but because they are interested in the topic, because they want to get involved, because they have time.
This is a very competent and attractive target group! There they come the Meryls Streeps of their community with their life experience, their know-how, their scars and amazing life stories. And some Sean Connery with courage, ideas and injuries will certainly be there too. They no longer have to win a Golden Globe from you, but they will demand the opportunity to participate and have a say.
And we can always honor you for your life's work.
With this article we encourage you to have a say:
What do you think about the topic of senior work - as a designer or participant in church senior offers? What is it like for you when you are defined by your age? If you are satisfied with what your community has to offer, you have wishes. Is there something you always wanted to say about it?
Do it! Write us a letter or an email.
There are already many churches that have opened the drawers and started a new job: We would like to hear about that too.
Ute Zeißler, [email protected]
Photo: Eeva Maiju
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