I recently watched a documentary on the television about the ways in which society treat old people. It was a "Big Brother" type programme, where researchers had put elderly celebrities into a house and took away everybody who cared for them. The idea being that when they had to look after themselves and just generally do more, they would feel younger and their health would improve. I found it an incredibly heart warming programme, and it really changed the way it which I perceive old people to be. Everybody tends to stick to the stereotype that old people are completely incapable of doing anything for themselves, they all lose their minds and are vulnerable. When actually, they are nothing of the sort. The research showed that these particular old people were like the stereotype because, quite simply, they had complied to the stereotype and grown used to relying upon other people to help them. One lady, who played Mrs Cropley in The Vicar of Dibley, said that it was her sole ambition to be able to walk with one stick. She accomplished it in one day because she walked to the kitchen carrying a cup of tea, and so only had one stick. She was even dancing in a short space of time, showing how she could really do the things that she feared she couldn't. They all said that fear played a part in the way they lived there lives. The lady had suffered two strokes, and since then she hadn't picked up a paintbrush because she was so scared that she wouldn't be able to paint the way she used to. When she was persuaded to paint again, she was really good, and the researchers said that that act alone could prolong her life, simply because she is following a favourite hobby. My best moment by far though was when one of the men, who said that he hadn't been able to put on his own socks for around ten years, managed to put on both socks, shoes and tie his laces all by himself. But even reading that last comment I made, I have implied sympathy, but I really shouldn't have done. Just because he's old, doesn't mean I should pity him. Putting on your socks is hardly the sweetest of actions, and yet because he was old, I found it adorable!
This one hour long programme has taught me that old people should be pitying me. They have lived for longer, they have seen more, experienced more, and so I have no right to pity them or treat them like children. Old age is something that people take for granted, and for the people who reach their elderly years, they should be allowed to carry on believing that they are young, because this research showed that they will lead a better quality of life if they do so.