The Unethical Abuse of Todays Elderly Essay

This essay has a total of 2179 words and 11 pages.

The Unethical Abuse of Todays Elderly

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

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 formal complaint.

Even the Supreme Court of Canada is backing the decisions made by the government. In one
case (McKinney v. University of Guelph (1990)) , the courts did find that this section
discriminated on the basis of age, but the discrimination was within "reasonable limits
with the equality rights of older persons" .

The impact of mandatory retirement goes further than simply affecting one person. Since
people are starting their families at later stages in their lives, many of the elderly are
still supporting their children who are in post secondary education. Many people are also
starting second, third, and fourth families at later eras in their lives. Trying to start
a new family that late in life, mixed in with forced retirement is an extremely large
financial burden that could evolve into the possibilities of losing your home, and or
having your standard of living changed dramatically for the worse, and or even falling
into poverty. This is something that is all too real and possible. The impact of being
told you can no longer work or you are no longer competent to do your job because you
turned 65 has tremendous emotional and psychological repercussions. The day before your
birthday the company valued the work and dedication you put into the business and asked
you for your wise and experienced input, the next day your incompetent and useless.
Imagine the impact it has and the possible ripple effect that this kind of treatment can
lead to.

Perhaps not in the immediate future but further on, possible changes can occur. Trying to
juggle the extremities of having no retiring age and the limit we have today, perhaps we
can catch the right solution and hold on to it. Conceivably a ‘phased-in' approach would
be the best solution. Gradually giving people an opportunity to work part-time, or use
their skills, experience, and expertise in their fields to mentor young individual coming
in to their fields.

When speaking of human rights and the ethics of the elderly, it is quite difficult not to
include the aspect of abuse. Elderly abuse is a very serious matter in our society, one
Continues for 6 more pages >>