Cultural Attitudes Towards Elderly Community Members

The elderly population in a community can be viewed in different ways, depending on the cultural history. Modern changes, such as medical care, can also make a big difference. In some cultures, the elderly are revered for their wisdom. In others, they are often cast off as a burden. These attitudes may depend a lot of the care available. Family members may have trouble caring for the elderly, resulting in frustration. Support systems and proper medical availability are important for long-term care situations. Active elderly adults may be easier to handle. There are many things in modern cultures that are causing attitudes towards the elderly to shift.

Medical Care

Quality medical care is on the decline in many areas. The elderly may be denied insurance coverage for certain procedures. The idea is to save the monetary compensation for those that have many more years ahead of them. Most of these decisions are not made by the doctors, but by those that form the insurance policies. Doctors must follow protocol or demand cash payments. This lack of concern for the elderly nurtures an attitude that they are not important. Younger generations that grown up with these new limitations may not be as respectful to their elderly family members. The overall cultural attitude changes over time.

Lack of Home Care 

In past cultures, the elderly were looked after by family members that stayed at home. This usually entailed action taken by the women of the family. In modern cultures, women are more likely to be a part of the workforce. This leaves no one at home to care for aging family members. As a result, they often end up in nursing care homes. Guilt is often felt when these decisions are made. Remorseful family members may be incredibly upset during visits or refrain from visiting at all. This leads to confusion about how to view the elderly. Families do not want to see them as a burden, but the many changes can be overwhelming.

Sometimes, a family member has to quit a job to stay home with an elderly person. This happens when there is no money for a nursing home or medical issues are not severe enough to warrant care covered by medical insurance. These limitations also lead to injuries and fatalities, as some elderly end up home alone for long periods of time. There is a huge gap in care options for this age group. They are not considered a priority anymore.

Family Structure

Family time once revolved around trips to grandma’s house and holiday gatherings. These are rare in many instances, today. Many kids grow up with minimal access to grandparents or none at all. Women are having kids later in life, as they may prefer to pursue a career first. This raises the chances that the grandparents may be too old to be active with their grandchildren. They may also die before long-term bonds are formed. This deprives children of the special bond that can be formed with elderly people.

Children that reside in divorced families may also lack the involvement of grandparents. Mothers or fathers may be too engrossed in their marital issues to reach out to other family members for visits. Kids quickly learn that these people are not a priority. In prior generations, the opposite attitude was taught. Kids learned how to treat their parents by observing how their grandparents were cared for and respected.

Past Cultures

We spend a lot of time in school learning about Native Americans and other more primitive cultures. These cultures often made elderly people the center of attention. They were revered for their wisdom. The older members of a tribe were known to have knowledge only gained from many years on this Earth. They may have held the position of an active historian in some groups. This meant that the oral history of the community was their responsibility to remember, speak about, and pass down. They were respected and attended to with the utmost care.


Respect is something that is lacking in many aspects of community and family life. It is not surprising that the elderly do not receive respect in modern times. Entitled attitudes from children leave parents lacking control over their households. These attitudes persevere into adulthood. The new generation of elderly citizens may have a very difficult time finding care options as they age. Selfish ideals may keep children from helping out. Kids are less likely to show compassion and empathy for others.

At one point in time, the younger generation would even show respect to all elderly people in the community. They were expected to open doors and assist in any way they were able. Now they are ushered off to soccer practice and social activities on a daily basis. There is a lack of concern for others in their daily lives. Our culture environment is producing self-centered individuals. The elderly population continues to suffer. It takes patience and selflessness to care for them.


Technology may not seem like a barrier to elderly care. It, however, has created a huge generation gap. There is a lack of connection between the young and old generations. Technology has advanced so quickly in recent years that kids and grandparents have little in common. In the past, they may have enjoyed similar activities. Kids are less likely to enjoy simple card games and reading. These are things that kids used to do with their elderly family members. There is still a generation of middle aged adults that grew up cooking in grandma’s kitchen. The best bonding often happens over a freshly baked pie and chocolate chip cookies. Kids also spent time building thing with their grandpa, or learning to work on the car. Technology has replaced these basic entertainment options.

Cultural attitudes towards elderly people are changing fast. The elderly are becoming much less of a priority. Some of these changes are forced by economic challenges. It can be financially impossible to have a family member home to care for the elderly. Broken family situations often isolate grandparents from their grandchildren. Technology, lack of medical care, and decreased respect all play a part in how recent generations of elderly people can expect to be treated.

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