Don’t Dismiss the Elderly

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on December 8, 2011 4:27 pm

Don’t dismiss the positive effect that the elderly can have on the life of a child.  According to the United Nations, the statistical number of the elderly will surpass the number of the young by the year of 2050.   The United Nations’ explanation is that it is due to the “increases in the proportions of older person (60 years or older) are… accompanied by declines in the proportions of the young (under age 15)…” (United Nations, 2011, Online)

 Elder Abuse is Reflective of Child Abuse

In our ever changing and rapidly aging population, seniors are going to become the primary voice of our society.  Thus, senior abuse and senior neglect on are the rise.   Reflectively, the number of child abuse cases have increased during this Great Recession.  Why is there a sudden rise in the number of reported cases of child abuse? A recent study lead by Dr. Rachel Berger of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh looked at the rise of shaken baby cases and other forms of brain-injuring. The research findings have been staggering.  During the span of this five year research study the researchers found direct correlation of the number of abuse victims in association with poverty and job instability in the home.   The sagging economy and the inability to find work has lead to a toxic environment in the nucleus home. 

Mickey Rooney addressed the United State Senate on Elder Abuse.  “Elder abuse (not unlike child abuse) comes in many different forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, or financial abuse… Many times, sadly… the elder abuse (and child abuse) involves a family member.” (United States Senate, 2011, Online)

Sadly and ironically, the rise of elder abuse maybe a blessing in disguise.   As the senior population increases in numbers, the number of listening ears will increase.  The English Utilitarian philosopher and social reformer, Jeremy Bentham, describes this concept best.  “It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong.”  Therefore, as the aging population increases, those who will be advocating on behalf of this population will increase as well.  Whereas the sad truth is, those who are advocating for children has decreased due to budget cuts and restraints over the past few years. 

The sagging economy must not be blamed for our neglect as a society, rather as a society we need to take responsibility by acting proactively.  If, we can ensure that our sports stadiums and event centers receive their funds, then we must ensure that those who are the most vulnerable in our society are protected.

If Jeremy Bentham was correct, that “the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation,” then we must positively influence our aging population not only to advocate for their own needs, but the needs of the entirety of our global community.   

The Positive Influence of the Elderly

The elderly can be positive role models in the lives of children. Children yearn for positive role models, leadership, guidance, and influence.  Proving a positive role model does not have to entail years of academic courses, nor sophisticated formulas to reach the life of a child.  In simple, children need positivity, support, friendship, and unconditional love and positive regard.  Children need to be embraced with kindness and respect. 

With the increased economic burdens placed on parents, the elderly can prove a positive benefit.  For centuries, and in many cultures, the elderly were revered and venerated by their communities.  In recent years, while the global community felt an economic surge, the elderly had become a nuisance for many.  

Of course, not everyone should be trusted unconditionally.  Be certain that anyone you place in the life of your child is someone that you trust.  Likewise, children, like adults can detect any incongruence in a person’s character.  We should use our due diligence ensuring that anyone that we place in our child’s life is a truly positive influence.  In simple, being elderly does not account for a positive person.  Be certain that those you place in the life of your child reflect the same virtues, values, morals, and ethical beliefs that you would want instilled in the life of your child. 

In the past few years, there has been a resurgence of need for grandparent involvement.  In many homes, parents are working multiple jobs simply to keep up with the economic mandates.  Therefore, parents are relying more-and-more upon those who have reached the “retirement” age.  

Importance of Encouraging an Elder and Child Relationship

“When segregation between young and old people becomes too marked, it can have a negative impact on a society…The result could be a society in which children, adults and the elderly spend even more of their time in separate spheres and gradually cease to understand each other. One way of counteracting this would be for children and elderly people to build alliances. But, if we are to succeed in this, society must first create the necessary framework.” (ScienceDaily, 2011, Online)

The Elderly

As the elderly age, the likelihood that they will become isolated increases.  The benefit of establishing a relationship between the elderly and the young creates an insulator of protection for both.  It ensures that the elderly not only have a quantity of life, but have an opportunity for improved quality of life.  Moreover, children are capable of learning about diversity, inclusion, empathy, understanding, compassion, and patience. 

Our aging population have a lot to offer, and our children have a lot to gain from the experiences of their elders. 


Adhikari, R., Jampaklay, A., & Chamratrithirong, A. (2011) Impact of children’s migration on health and health care seeking behavior of elderly left behind. Retrieved from

Berger, R. P., Fromkin, J. B., Stutz, H., Makoroff, K., Scribano, P. V., Feldman, K., Tu, L. C., & Fabio, A. (2011) Abusive head trauma during a time of increased unemployment: A multicenter analysis. Pediatrics 128(4): 637-43 (2011) Study: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2011) An update on state budget cuts, At least 46 states have imposed cuts that hurt vulnerable residents and cause job losses. Retrieved from

National Center of Biotechnology Information, NCBI (2011) Rachel P. Berger Retrieved from

Science Daily (2011) Elderly to out number children by 2050 in most parts of the world. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2011) Cuts in California, How billions in budget cuts will affect the Golden State, State welfare program Retrieved from

United Nations (2011) World population ageing 1950-2050, Executive summary Retrieved from

United States Senate (2011) Testimony of Mickey Rooney senate special committee on aging. Retrieved from

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

20 comments on “Don’t Dismiss the Elderly”

  1. Helen Green says:

    I agree with everything you say in this article. I think it is so important for children to have loving relationships with reliable elders and older people need to have the stimulation and fun that children can provide. I feel very strongly that older people are often left without care and communication with others especially if they live alone. Having a caring relationship with a child or children can help so much especially if they are able to share stories of their life with them. Equally children learn so much from spending time with the elderly and listening to their stories. It is how life should be.

    1. Dear Helen Green,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. It is vitally important that children and older adults have the benefit of sharing and learning about one another’s lives. I totally agree that children, as well as, the elderly adults have an opportunity “…learn so much from spending time with…” one another; having an opportunity to listen to one another’s stories.

      I am sincerely appreciative of your review.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  2. Sheila says:

    I agree with so many points in the article, we can all see the aging population and need to listen to them and take care of them. I am very fortunate to have my mother take care of my daughter and see these generations bond in such a wonderful way that they hopefully will always have a close connection.

    I was also lucky enough to live with my own grandparents for some post-secondary and thought it gave me some unique insight and understanding to a different generation.

    1. Dear Sheila,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. It is always an awesome experience to learn from those that have gone before us. It is a fortunate thing that you were capable of living and learning, as well as, sharing a part of your grandparents lives.

      May this and future articles prove a real blessing.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Dear Dr. Brown,
    Thank you for this posting. My parents are 86 and vital. They have remained active and have many friends in the community who care about them. I love spending time with them, but as several have commented, I live too far to have contact more than once or twice a year, but do my best to call as often as I can. When my 29-year-old daughter decided to go back to school to get her masters, she chose to move in with my parents and the three of them have “worked” things out. I giggle because it is not like having a child move home. I think it helps all of them maintain a fresh perspective and a sense of comfort and relevance.
    I try not to think of the void they will leave in their passing. They are the last of their age group within our immediate family.

    1. Dear Jenn

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to this article. I am also appreciative of the feedback that you have offered. Your parent’s willingness to invite your daughter to live with them, is an opportunity for both your parents, as well as, your daughter to gain many positive experiences. They will gain insights into each other’s generational nuances and personality differences. What an awesome opportunity for your daughter, as well as, your parents!!! Carpe Diem!

      Again, thank you for taking the time to review and remark on this article.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Tracy says:

    I am a mom to two amazing kiddos and love my life. I love capturing fun and the fashionable. Photography has been a great outlet for my babies and my friends. Over the years I have worked with soooo many senior people. I have captured seniors playing simply having fun like my kiddos. It is inspiring when you have an opportunity to spend time with those who are learned. My children get to play a lot with seniors I photograph for various online and hardcopy mags. It’s a blessed life. I cannot emphasize how much a blessing “my” seniors models have been unto me and my family.

    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. First of all, I must admit that I am a novice photographer. As a youth, I was on the high school yearbook staff, as well as university. I love photography; therefore, I appreciate your very mention of photography and it’s benefit unto seniors and senior relationships.

      In your reply you mentioned that you “…love capturing fun and the fashionable.” I am curious if you have seniors dress up, or you catch them being themselves. Either way, as a youthfully minded individually, I love dressing up, as well as, playing dress up (hint: Halloween). We get to exercise a part of our mind and being that would otherwise be lost on our youth.

      It sounds as though you have a real passion for seniors. Obviously, your passion will have a profound impact upon the lives of your children too. It is an awesome thing what you are offering both your children and seniors.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  5. Tracy says:

    Thank you Dr Brown for the needed reminded of the value of our elders. Historically our elders were highly respected and honoured. Unfortunately in today’s society the elder are viewed as a burden and/or nuisance. It is the hard work of our elder that has brought about the success of our countries that we are building on today. History tends to repeat itself and by learning from their experiences we should be able to avoid the same mistakes. Exposing our young to our elders will only broaden their experiences and help them to grow as empathetic and accepting individuals.

    Thank you again


    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. I agree, that there are groups within our society that consider seniors “… as a burden and/or nuisance.” Unfortunately, they have a skewed view of a population that has so much to offer. You are correct that ” exposing our young to our elders will only broaden their experiences and help them to grow as empathetic and accepting individuals.”

      Tracy, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  6. Mel Lang says:

    A timely article. My family recently had an elderly relative pass away. Because of my families privacy I do not want to say who it was. For a long time my family dismissed her. Perhaps they didn’t consider her confusion, anxiety, and somewhat obstrepreous behavior. It was rather frightening for the family to see her go from being a fairly with it senior to someone totally out of it, and more counseling from hospital staff would have been useful. She’s passed away last month, the family seems to be doing well her sudden loss, but this article invokes new anxiety on my part. I sometimes think…Could I have been a better family member, and no only family member, but friend unto her? I adored her as a child, but lost my witts with her as she aged. That’s my feedback.

    1. Dear Mel Lang,

      First of all, my thoughts are with you and your family. Loosing a loved one can through an imbalance in our lives. It is important to recognize that your loved one, whether you “liked” them or not, can have a real impact upon your own life. In fact, if you disliked them, it can often have a greater impact due to the strive between you and this other person.

      It sounds as though you had a very close tie to this individual. That’s terrific, think upon the good memories associated with this person. Think up on the times you had together and the ties that bonded you. Do not think of your loved one as having abandoned you, rather that she is still with you, even in spirit. As I have mentioned to many of my atheist patients, you may dismiss a soul, but it’s tough to dismiss the spirit that engulfed that individual. For many of my atheist patients this is helpful, because they begin to see that the personality (spirit) of that individual can always reside within the center of their world. Furthermore, for those who believe in a higher power, I encourage them to recognize that their loved one still exists. It’s important that we not dust away our emotions attached to our loved ones. We should remember the “positivity” of individuals that have effected our lives.

      Finally, “if” you feel you gave your best, then find comfort in the knowledge of giving your best. If not, then recognize that you made a mistake, forgive yourself, and move onto the happier memories associated with that individual. REMEMBER, to always focus upon the positive of an event, a situation, a circumstance, a place, or a person; and this will help you to move forward with your life.

      It is always important to recognize that there is always hope available. If you find that you continue to struggle with negative thoughts or simply sad thoughts, contact your local counselor – therapist, or make contact with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Assoc. for the name of a counsellor in your area.

      Mel Lang, my thoughts are with you.

      May you be blessed.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  7. Dr. Eunice Johannson says:

    Excellent article and a ‘must read’ for psychologists, sociologists, social workers, as well as parents, and importantly those in the ‘sandwich’ situation…juggling between children and aging parents. As Dr. Brown points out…we need to pay attention to the demographics…the implications of that at this time and ahead. There is and will be more demand for time, energy, and resources within families. Both our vulnerable elders and children need loving, respectful care and quality time in relationships. The elders have so much to offer in love, support, and patience with the little ones, and the precious little ones certainly bring liveliness, joy, and unconditional love to the older person. I have seen amazing lifting of the spirits of persons who are elderly….sometimes a healing effect when they have opportunity to interact with a joyful child. I have seen children listen and learn from the calm wisdom of an older person, be comforted and benefit from the unconditional loving care of an elder. Indeed, Dr. Brown’s article is well researched and written and very timely.

    1. Mel Lang says:

      Dr. Johannson, I liked your comments.

      1. Dear Mel Lang,

        I agree, I too enjoyed Dr. Johannson’s feedback.

        Warm Regards,

        Dr. Asa Don Brown

    2. Dear Dr. Eunice Johannson,

      Thank you for the time to reply to my latest article. I agree that “…elders have so much to offer in love, support, and patience with the little ones, and the precious little ones certainly bring liveliness, joy, and unconditional love to the older person.” It is so rewarding to be around those who are our seniors. I simply love soaking up the knowledge and history associated with the lives of our seniors. Seniors are not only resources of knowledge and experience, but are capable of sharing comfort and care that comes from experience too.

      If an individual stubs his toe once, he will regret it, but he may not have learned from the experience as a person who has stub his toe several times. Similarly, for many seniors have had many triumphs and sorrows, successes and failures. If-and-only-if, they have been capable of finding the real healing power of life, the power of “unconditional” acceptance of self, approval of oneself, the unconditional approval and acceptance of others, and most of all the unconditional acceptance of love, then-and-only-then, will they prove the positive resource for our children and for others. A senior who has learned this state of unconditionality, will enrich the life of a child, likewise, a child who offers an unconditional perspective will enhance the life of another.

      Dr. Johannson, I am sincerely appreciative of your review and comments.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  8. ian says:

    We reap what we sow. I agree that an abusive parent risks being an abused elder.

    Let that be a lesson to us all.

    Centuries ago, before the majority of us could write and record facts, we relied on elders’ spoken word, and their words were gospel even if they were wrong for the simple fact that they were the only credible source of knowledge. This worked because our communities were smaller, our centers of society were smaller.

    Now we have the written word and medical terms for our mental quirks as we age.

    I suggest that we now know that it is possible to remember as much or more than our parents ever did, today. So we had better be very good to our children and love them because we will eventually be at their mercy. And it will be a time when we can no longer see through the eyes of our current selves.

    Everything will have been better, back when….

    Elderly are a benefit to children because there is a point in life where we are no longer fighting to provide homes and food, and can afford the time and praise to our grandchildren. And of course the grandchildren see nothing but attention from an adorable relative that has nothing but time for them.

    Yes children benefit from the elderly. But we view them thru our eyes, as their children. We know a different face of them good or bad, and a different time. We are subjective. We need to be aware of that always when raising our kids. Good treatment of our elders starts with us new adults now, so that generations of kids can benefit from their grandparents, in perpetuity.

    If there was a circle of life cliche, this is it. But it is a good one and easy to follow.

    1. Dear Ian,

      Where do I begin, many thought provoking statements and ideas. First-and-foremost, I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Intriguing point about the “elderly (being) … a benefit to children because there is a point in life where we are no longer fighting to provide homes and food, and can afford the time and praise to our grandchildren.” Of course, the more time we have or can afford, the greater our ability to be made an intricate part of another’s life. Unfortunately, for many seniors time is all they have, but connections are not always available. As mentioned, as the baby boomers age, this aging population has become more and more difficult to reach because of their vast numbers. Where before, a local religious figure could drop in to check on the seniors within their religious sect; today, the massive growth of this population has begun spreading thin those who once had an opportunity to meet up with seniors within their religious sect. Of course, religious leaders are not, nor have they been the only support for seniors in the past, but this is a good visual example.

      Ian, you have some very intriguing ideas, they given me pause.

      May my future articles be a stimulant for you.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  9. Carla Glessing says:

    My family and I live a distance far enough from our parents that we are not able to visit/or have them visit more than a couple of times a year. This will even become more so as they age. In our community my children do interact with the elderly through our church. However, it if we did not have our church family they would have very little interaction at all. Your article points out the benefits to children of interaction with our seniors. It would be great to see more opportunities in our communities for this interaction to occur … an intriguing idea to look further into to. I enjoy reading the articles that you write … thought provoking. Thank-you.

    1. Dear Carla Glessing,

      Good morning, thank you for taking the time to reply to my latest article. You have pointed out some very important aspects of a familial environment; that being an association with others. Whether a child has an opportunity to associate through a church, a synagogue, a temple, a mosque, a shrine, etc, or through some other organization that offers diversity, the importance is that your child is capable of interacting with others of diverse backgrounds, age groups, cultural backgrounds, etc. Diversity fuels creativity and it releases the mind from seeking out biases toward another. Moreover, learning to respect others, despite their age, intellectual quotient (IQ), race, occurs when we seek to interact, learn, and foster positive relationships with individuals of diverse backgrounds.

      Again, I am certainly appreciative of your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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