Old People: Our Turn for Discrimination

By now I'm sure most of you have heard the news that our world is being invaded by folks who discriminate against the aged. It's called ageism. See? I don't even know how to spell it because I'm not sure it's in a dictionary yet. This has been going on for as long as I have been alive without a word to describe it, but seems to only have discovered popularity of late. Why? Call it the Baby Boom effect. There are a whole lot of us who are all getting old at the same time and we know more than we get credit for.

When I was a kid I learned about racism and Communism. Later on I learned about feminists, leftists, rightists, socialists and pacifists. After that came sexism and now ageism. It seems like there are a lot more -isms and -ists now. Don't blame me for leaving out a bunch of them out. I'm just a one-woman operation here (Sorry, Editor Steve) [Editor's Note: True. One woman... and one man 😀].

So here we are in a brand new -ism of our own. This is pretty darned serious. For the most part, old people are good workers with strong ethics and years of work experience. They make good employees and should not be discriminated against because of the number of years they've been on the planet. Yet, this is an opportunistic world where certain employers will take advantage of some of us because of our age and/or lack of experience.

Women and men who stayed home while their spouses worked are particularly vulnerable to job discrimination. This classification of potential workers can be set aside too quickly. If you fall in this category you can offer up a career of budgeting, care giving for children and parents, housekeeping, cooking, meal planning and volunteering. All these jobs make you qualified for a number of positions in today's workplace.

The only person who has to believe you WILL not to be discriminated against is YOU. It's your job to convince every one else. Sorry, but that's the reality. This goes for banking, housing, medical care, community-based help organizations, insurance and just about everything else. If you can't do this, you can't give up. Help is everywhere. You just have to find it and you can.

It is true that some of us have limits on what we can do. I don't think it's a good idea for any of you to be climbing ladders or taking up electrical work at this late stage. Short order cook might be a challenge... you know, sharp knives and hot grills are a nasty combo. You might be better suited to customer service or an executive advisory position. No laughing. Some of the best minds on the planet are hidden behind wrinkled faces and gnarled hands. Of course this means you'll have to find the energy to work but this is one of the best parts of being old. Unlike most younger folks, you can work part time and share the best of two worlds.

I listened in on a conversation of two Geezer women while I waited for a doctor appointment a few weeks ago. One of them made less than $800 a month on Social Security and the other just less than $1,000. Both needed joint replacements and both had given up their jobs to get the surgery. In one case, the job would be there when the healing was done. In the other, more dire situation there was no job to go back to. I've been thinking about these two women since that day. Without a spouse or family to live with these women are living under some pretty tough circumstances. The problem is that there are too many men and women who worked all their lives and find themselves in the same situation.

The solution is finding a job. That brings us back to the beginning. There are lots of jobs out there right now and you may not be able to physically or mentally handle some of them but that's not a reason to give up. Some of you have a skill set that could easily transfer to working from home. An advertised job may not say that but you could make the suggestion if you see an opportunity. Outsourcing work has become more and more popular through the years and we're positioned to do some of that work.

I'm not sure if I could assemble widgets but I could probably whip up some advertising copy for them. Heck, I can still type for an hour or so at a time. No one has to know how many breaks I take in my own executive suite/entry closet/laundry. The finished work is the only proof needed.

Now the truth. Do I have a job? Nope. The only thing I do is housework and write this column. Oh, and I still read help wanted ads. You never know.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.