The Unethical Abuse of Today's Elderly

Topics: Abuse, Retirement, Discrimination Pages: 6 (2219 words) Published: March 10, 2002
Assignment #1 – Position Paper –

Mike Poitras

Waking up in the middle of the night frightened and shaken up is a terrible time that each one of us can remember feeling. Then having someone close to us who we trusted come in, pick us up, and hold us tight produced a sense of security. We were able to take that security, and build a dignified and confident person that grew wiser with age. It seems though that in some instances, as we grow older and wiser, some do not get the respect and dignity that is owed to them. The security that helped build their lives has been stripped from them. Seniors end up losing the human right of having dignity and security that they have come to enjoy and live with. Our human rights do not answer to the needs of today's elderly, either through discriminatory acts, or acts of abuse. We should all be treated with the same free discriminatory human rights as well as the opportunity to equality, as stated in the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). It declares that… …[a]ll individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

To live in such a perfect world where everybody can have their needs addressed would be as though you were living a dream. But in the cruel reality, many people get discriminated against on an everyday basis; especially seniors. Many seniors today find themselves being taken advantaged of in a number of manifest and latent ways. The simple need of being treated with the same human rights as all other people is escaping our reality. As a person grows older they begin to experience the different classes of mistreatment. Although the CHRA tries to protect people with human rights, they themselves show and promote the act of discrimination. "Much of what we associate with aging is simply ‘socially constructed'" . Since the discrimination against elderly people is so characterized, it is not surprising that society is trying to force them out of social places. The mandatory retirement age of 65 is not only seen as acceptable but the courts and government supports it. This aspect of discrimination is one of many forms of abuse, but it is not the only one. Through physical, financial, psychological and emotional abuse, and through the acts of neglect and abandonment, seniors feel the insufferable pain everyday of their lives. To remedy the problem there are simple and ideological principles that need to be examined; dignity, independence, fairness, participation and security. If these standards can be utilized by society, we can rid ourselves of the terrible mistreatment of seniors. Although the CHRA and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms both state that to discriminate against somebody because of their age is wrong, they have done nothing to change the fact that it happens on an everyday basis. "[M]any workplaces have retirement policies that require all employees to retire at age 65" . Section 10 of the Ontario Human Rights Code defines age as being "an age that is eighteen years or more … and less than sixty-five years" . This discriminatory definition of age goes against ones sense of security in a working establishment. This is simply translated into that "the Commission cannot receive a complaint of age discrimination in employment from someone who is 65 or older" . So if a manager or storeowner would cut back benefits, vacation pay, hours, or anything of such magnitudes, the seniors would not be able to voice a...

Bibliography: 1. Aitken, Brian, W. W. Ethical Issues for the Elderly: Study Guide. Huntington University, 1998.
4. Shell, Donna, J. Protection of the Elderly: A Study of Elder Abuse. Winnipeg: Manitoba Council on Aging, 1982.
5. Supreme Court of Canada: McKinney v. University of Guelph (1990)
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