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Why Has the Elderly Lost Society's Respect?

"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be."-- Robert Browning

"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be."-- Robert Browning

I remember when the elderly in our society were well respected. When people held doors open for older people and when senior citizens were thought of as wise and insightful.

People looked up to them as someone who have been around the block a couple more times and therefore they held a certain level of knowledge in their life banks that society thought of as useful. I remember holding all my teachers in high regard and having great respect for most of them. Sure there was some that I couldn’t stand but for the most part I respected them, sometimes respect born of fear but nonetheless respect. Especially the older teachers who were so intuitive and wise. Now my question is when did this stop? It seems every generation that comes up in the world has less and less respect for our elderly. I am not trying to make a generalization here, I am well aware that there are many people who respect their elderly, but I am speaking of the ones that don’t. Why don’t they? And what happened in their life that they don’t see why this is wrong?

I experienced something the other night that set this hub in motion. That I would like to share here on hub pages and maybe others can give me some insight as to why situations like this happen. Here’s what happened:


I was at the grocery store the other night getting some things. I was ready to check out at the register and this young man around 24-25 years old came up behind me and didn’t get in line all the way, he kind of just left his basket close to the register and then went to look at something. In the meantime, an elderly lady, around 75 years old got in line in front of him. I guess she didn’t realize that he was in line. This guy came back to his basket and preceded to ask the women why she got in front of him. He said, “hey lady why did you get in front of me, my basket was here and you took my place”? I looked up and saw his face was red with rage and the women was kind of shaking and looked up at him like she couldn’t really understand, perhaps she couldn’t hear him very well being that she was older, so she just kept putting her things up by the register and didn’t reply. Then I heard the young man again, “Hey lady, I am talking to you, why don’t you understand that you got in front of me, I cannot believe this shit, this old lady got in front of me”. Finally, the next lady at the register next to ours turned to him and said, “sir, I can help you at this register”. He just rolled his eyes and said, I cannot believe this shit”. The woman looked at me and said in a very weak voice, “ I don’t know what he was saying, I didn’t mean to get in front of him”. I told her not to worry about it because he was a jerk.

I wondered why she was even out at this late hour by herself. I wondered if she even had anyone like a family member to take care of her or help her as she didn’t look like she was in very good health; she looked kind of frail. I felt empathy for her and felt bad that I didn’t lay into this guy. But being that it was a late hour and this guy was so mean, I didn’t really want to start anything with him myself. But I did make it a point to watch the lady as she got to her car so that nothing happened to her.

So this is the basis for my question. When did respect for the elderly stop? What has happened in this young man’s life that he wouldn’t allow an elderly, frail, woman to get in front of him in line. Why did it anger him so much? I realize that some people’s core values are not as apparent as others. Maybe he never had anyone to show him respect and how to give it. I realize also that certain cultures, holds ethics and values in a whole different level. That what is important to one person isn’t as important to another but what kind of value system does a young man have that he had so little respect for an elderly lady at a grocery store at a late hour? Something so small as a courtesy of letting someone cut in front of him was something that irritated him to the point that he could’ve resorted to violence? The young man walked away as though he was wronged, and I guess this is what bothers me most of all.

I felt sad for humanity that day and maybe I am making too much into this but am I? I mean lately in the news we hear about the elderly getting beat up by gangs of teenagers that don’t have anything else to do. Eighty year old woman are getting mugged and beat down in subway and bus stations. Homeless people are getting set on fire just for fun. So you tell me am I making too much into this situation? I think not.

I do know that karma is a bitch and this guy will get his somewhere, sometime; I just wish I could be there to see it.

Some of my hubs

  • Raising a son that happens to be gay
    When I was 18 years old I happened to get pregnant by a boy that I was dating at the time. He was a bad boy, I was into bad boys then. I thought they were fun, exciting, and exhilarating and boy was I wrong...
  • The Rare Pearl
    For many centuries pearls have been highly valued as objects of beauty. The word pearl has become a metaphor for something very rare, very fine, very admirable, and very valuable. This is the description that I give to my mother; she is a rare pearl


ladyjane1 (author) from Texas on August 03, 2014:

Thanks for reading....I understand how you must have felt being told that. Of course he should have just let that go and not said anything. Who knows why people do and say the things that they do,especially to elderly. Glad you have a good atitude about it... cheers!!!

babblerem on July 31, 2014:

It was a lovely sunny morning so decided to treat myself to breakfast and coffee at a nearby cafe. I ordered and crossed the road to buy a couple of newspapers (can't drink my coffee without one!). Because of painful arthritis in all my joints and having had a hip replacement op. plus, I am told, a mild stroke, I can't walk far and despite the help of my dad's old walking stick I can't negotiate a pavement step without something to lean on for a couple of seconds. I've had several falls because my balance is affected and don't want to be a nuisance to kindly ambulance workers.

I often admire some of the gorgeous cars parked in the road (BMW's, Mercedes Benz and so forth). I could not afford a car but am a fan of TV shows like 'Chasing Classic Cars'. With papers in hand I leaned slightly for all of 2 seconds on a gleaming red car outside the newsagents and crossed the road. As I entered the cafe a young man said something to me. I said, 'Pardon ?' and he said, with a scowl on his face, “Thank you for using my car as a hand-rail!” I am slow on the uptake and mumbled something ineffective like 'Sorry, I like admiring the lovely cars in the road'. Not having my hearing aid with me I was fortunate, I believe, by the look on his face, in not hearing what else he said to me.

I went to my seat, but returned to him and blurted out “Wait until you are 88!”

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps he was just trying to show his blonde girl-friend how macho he was. Perhaps elderly people, particularly silly old women like me should banish themselves to a Care Home where they will be out of sight and won't be a nuisance to anyone except the Carers and the tax-payers. By the way, I can't do that as I am the sole carer for my 60yr old autistic, disabled son who lives with me!

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