This paper is divided into two parts. The first is experimental: to artificially induce some outward manifestations of old age onto my myself, and observe the consequences, both in my own mind, and how others perceived me. Next , I try to answer three age-related questions: 1) How might the physical changes of becoming older have psychological effects? 2) Are we doing enough to accommodate older Americans and their special needs in our society? 3) Why or why not?
I knew I only had to do this experiment for a couple hours, as did the people around me. To compensate for this, I didn’t tell anyone about it in advance. It caused some real inconveniences and even some anger. I went ahead with it anyway: I took off my glasses, put gravel in my shoes, wore gloves, and turned up the volume on my headphones. Back when I was in the fifth grade, some classmates volunteered to do the basically same thing for a day. (I didn’t.) At first we all enjoyed it. Then they became a burden to themselves and us.
This time, I remembered how irritated I was when my grandmother came to stay with us for a week when she recovered from her cataract operation. She knew it, but couldn’t do anything about it. Nor could I. Nor could I help it when, now aged, I got irritated at everyone else for being irritated at me for having suddenly gotten old when I could have warned them.
Question #1: Our bodies affect both others’ minds and our own. Question #2: as a society we are doing pretty much everything that can reasonably be done. A lot of money is being spent on older people and laws have been passed, and will be passed, to protect them (Nathanson, 2011). Question #3: the reason for these laws is the voting power of senior citizens. The senior vote is a huge organized block with a lot of money to donate to political campaigns (Campbell, 2003, p.3). The old may be old, but they are still very strong indeed. They have to be.
Campbell, A.L. (2003, July 23.) How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Political Activism and the American Welfare State. Retrieved from http://www.hks.harvard.edu/inequality/ Seminar/Papers/Campbell.pdf
Nathanson, P. (2011.) NSCLS: National Senior Citizens Law Center. Effective Advocacy in the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://www.nsclc.org/