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Elderly people are often taken for granted in modern society. With the focus on younger people and the provision of opportunities for the new generation, senior citizens are often left in the shadow in the U.S. social environment. However, the identified phenomenon is not ubiquitous; the Japanese culture, on the contrary, provides an entirely different perspective of age and elderly people. By considering some of the concepts that the Japanese culture comprises, the U.S. society may create a more appropriate environment for its senior citizens.
Before considering the attitude towards the elderly members of the population in Japan, one must address the way in which Japanese people interpret age and aging as a concept. A closer look at the lifestyle of the elderly members of the citizens in Japan will reveal that most of the seniors are just as vivacious as young people (Nguyen, Mujtaba, Kass, & Tran, 2015). The identified observation can be supported by the fact that the local healthcare system allows maintaining comparatively high rates of life expectancy.
The effects of the identified phenomenon are rather predictable. The senior members of Japanese society are never viewed as inactive or unable to participate in social activities. Quite on the contrary, the Japanese elderly people engage in the activities about which they are enthusiastic. The devotion to a hobby can be considered the essential character trait of a senior member of the Japanese society (Nguyen et al., 2015).
Unfortunately, the current attitudes toward senior citizens in the United States leave much to be desired. Although there is no evident disrespect in the relationships between the representatives of different generations, and the essential principles of decency are upheld as crucial principles of the communication between the elderly and the American youth, there is an elusive sense of lack of appreciation among the latter.
For instance, the modern American culture has the propensity to stereotype senior citizens as chronically ill and old-fashioned people that are completely out of touch with the progressive reality (Azulai, 2014). As a result, the attitude that younger representatives of the American population have toward the identified members of the society can be described as condescending, at best, and downright neglectful, at worst (Svenningsen, Manoharan, Foss, Lauritsen, & Bay-Nielsen, 2014).
Furthermore, even if leaving the negative attitude toward the target members of the population out of the picture and focusing solely on the way in which old people are typically portrayed in the media, one must admit that the image of a senior citizen is surprisingly biased in the U.S. culture. The tendency to attribute characteristics such as senility, lack of initiative, etc., is admittedly disturbing. Therefore, the current portrayal of senior citizens in the American culture could borrow certain elements from the Japanese one so that the identified members of the U.S. population could not feel abandoned and shunned from being socially active.
It would be wrong to state that the phenomenon observed in the Japanese society is entirely alien to the American society and the elderly members of its communities. For instance, similarly to the traditions of the Japanese culture, the American one also tends to celebrate what makes senior citizens different from the rest of the American population instead of limiting the opportunities for the target population (Nguyen et al., 2015).
The idea of the elderly being generally wiser and more experienced than younger citizens is another point of contact between the American and the Japanese vision of the age. Although the tendency to view old people as wise and experienced is much more evident in the Japanese environment, where the wisdom of old people is lauded in folklore, the notion that an old person has a significant amount of wisdom and experience is also perpetuated in the American cultural environment (Svenningsen et al., 2015).
As the comparison provided above shows, the image of an elderly person that is represented in the Japanese culture is much more positive than the one promoted in the contemporary American culture. The effects of the identified differences in the portrayal of senior citizens are quite drastic. In the Japanese environment, elderly people are respected and appreciated, whereas in the environment of American society, old people are viewed as dead weight.
Therefore, there is an apparent need for change in modern U.S. society. The elderly members of the American population must be respected as an equally important part of society and offered an opportunity to become socially active. As a result, an improvement in the perspective of age can be expected. Furthermore, the healthcare system needs to be reconsidered to provide senior citizens with more options for increasing their life expectancy rates and enjoying good health.
As soon as the elderly are viewed as not a burden but valued members of the society in the U.S., a more appropriate environment can be created for the target population. With the focus on creating decent living standards for the identified citizens of the United States, more opportunities for an increase in average life expectancy rates will be created.
Azulai, A. (2014). Ageism and future cohorts of elderly: Implications for social work. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 11(2), 2-13.
Nguyen, L. D., Mujtaba, B. J., Kass, G., & Tran, Q. H. M. (2015). Cross culture management-an examination on task, relationship and work overload stress orientations of German and Japanese working adults. American International Journal of Social Science, 4(1), 51-63.
Svenningsen, P., Manoharan, T., Foss, N. B., Lauritsen, M. L., & Bay-Nielsen, L. (2014). Danish Medical Journal, 61(7), 1-4.