Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Sydney Memorial Service.

For reasons that must have seemed good to them the powers that be originally invited none of the surviving crew members of the Sydney living in Western Australia to the re-interment of the unknown sailor who was washed up on Christmas Island after the Sydney sank during World War Two. Following publicity a last minute change of plans was made to allow the four, who were willing and able, to attend.

What I found most disturbing was the assumption that these gentlemen were too frail to attend.
No-one seemed to have even checked to find out whether this was true. If they had they would have found that the very articulate gentleman in the morning newspaper belied the belief that all eighty and ninety year olds are unable to take care of themselves and live in nursing homes and to judge from the television footage of the ceremony, all four who attended appeared to be quite fit and capable.

Where does this belief come from? I think of those I know - a woman who travelled to England by herself at the age of 89 and another who at 94, with some support from family, was still caring for her very frail husband in their home. I could go on and tell you about the men and women who drive, study, travel and enjoy their lives. I can also tell you of the insults offered to some of these intelligent, self sufficient people. For example the 92 year old who was questioned by immigration authorities because the birth date on his passport was clearly wrong. That would make him over ninety and that couldn't be right, could it, so he must be lying or travelling on a dodgy passport.

Yes, some are unfortunate enough be unable to care for themselves but by no means all or even the majority are in care situations and the assumption that they are is beyond insulting. It is prejudice and should be dealt with as such.


Laura E. Goodin said...

I agree entirely. My grandparents were entirely mentally capable, and my grandfather was entirely physically capable, up unitl death. My mom is 66 years old and in excellent physical and mental health (knock on wood) and has no plans to change that (knock on wood). It seems fatuous and trite to say "age is just a number," but what's wrong with respecting people and treating them as capable until you *know* they need more help?

Imagine me said...

I guess it's like all prejudice. People form an idea about a group, often on little or no evidence, and then everyone in that group is considered to conform to that idea instead of being judged on their own merits.