America is obsessed with youth, sometimes ignoring the elderly.
Question: Do we mistreat our elders?
Bill Novelli: We don’t mistreat our elders per se. Yes we have a certain obsession with youth. I think every culture does. But you know I think the boomers are changing that. And the reason I say this is that the 50 plus Americans have the majority of the disposable income in this country. So they’ve got the money. They want to spend it. They’re intelligent. If you look in the AARP magazine, you’ll see ads for everything from computers, to financial services, travel, you name it. Cosmetics. And so as people age – as the boomers get older – they are so strong, and they are so big, and they are so important that companies, and the entertainment industry and others – if they insult older people; if they practice aging stereotypes, they’ll do it at their own peril because boomers are not gonna tolerate that.
Question: Do we treat them well?
Bill Novelli: You know there are several points of view with respect to treatment of older people. There is elder abuse in this country. It’s kind of a hidden, dark, dirty secret. There is that, without question. And a lot of it comes from family members. I mean so you always have those kinds of . . . of, you know, negative aspects of any society, of any culture. And we have it too. As far as people going into nursing homes and sending their elders off to nursing homes, many, many people are caring for their loved ones at home. Now it is true that if somebody has Alzheimer’s or some other disease, it becomes very, very difficult to do that. And it is true that we’re a mobile society. And so many of us are living apart from our parents. And for those kinds of reasons, there are people, of course, who are in . . .who have to go into nursing homes. And I think that other countries are beginning to follow suit as well. Everybody would wish they could take care of their loved one at home, but it’s not always possible. And so what we have to do is balance home care and institutional care. And we have to make sure that both of them are quality . . . quality experiences for older Americans. We need to work on that, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative thing that people have to go into nursing homes, just so the experience is a good one.
Recorded on: 9/27/07