In a fast paced competitive world of a multiple of career options, traditional families are being replaced by nuclear families leading to fragmentation of the cohesive social structure. The immediate negative fall out of this social change is felt significantly by the elderly. With advances in medicine, life expectancy of humans has increased. In the US, according to Chapin (2002), “By the year 2030, the number of persons 65 or older is expected to more than double to 66 million, or one in five Americans”. It is this old and ageing population which due to age-old held beliefs is being discriminated and targeted by the young and the working adults.
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Old people are generally considered as a burden, redundant section of the population, fit only to be put away out of sight, in old age homes and institutions. For the economically depressed ethnic groups, scarce resources translate into outright neglect of the elderly. Disrespect and disregard for the aged is especially prevalent among the African-American and the Hispanic populations. A 1990 Census found that 10.1% of older Anglos living in poverty, 33.8% of elderly African-Americans lived in poverty as did 22.5% of older American-Indians (Chapin 2002).
Such a view is now being challenged by many people. According to Hooyman and Kiyak (1992), “the emergence of age based advocacy groups and increased political activity of older adults in the past 50 years have changed not only public perceptions but also policies and programs such as social security and medicare.” The elderly are now being empowered to lead a more productive life due to some positive governmental action which in the long run will bring in helpful social changes. Social discrimination of the aged in all aspects of life will diminish in future with these actions.
Chapin, Rosemary, Becker, Holly Nelson, Gordon, Theresa and Terrebonne Sarah. (2002). Curriculum Module on Aging and Ethnicity. Web.
Hooyman, Nancy R and Kiyak, Asuman H. (1992). Social Gerontology – A Multidisciplinary Perspective. Pearsons. New York. Page 4.