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Washington Voices

Senior stereotypes fade with time, thankfully

Thu., March 4, 2010, midnight

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple,

And a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”

Jenny Joseph wrote this poem, “Warning,” just as she was about to enter senior citizenhood herself. I hope she benefitted from the consciousness-raising this poem helped bring about. Red Hat Societies abound, filled with people to whom old age is an opportunity, not a handicap.

The sad thing is, a stereotype still persists, that gray hair and wrinkles mean that vitality has gone, that the mind is going, and that awful term, “second-class citizen” or “second childhood” now applies to us seniors. Some of us even believe it of ourselves, and that’s the saddest of all.

I’m 86, so I’ve coped with this treatment for quite a while, now. But I do think things are slowly improving. The percentage of senior citizens in our population is increasing, and we’re making ourselves heard.

Hey, how about a Senior Olympics, no one under 65 need apply. There’s already a Special Olympics, a Paralympics, a Wheelchair Olympics, and, for heaven’s sakes, a Junior Olympics. Those disadvantaged groups have a chance for glory and gold, but we seniors do not!

I do know that this is the Information Age, so I went to the Internet to be sure, and, would you believe, there already is a Senior Olympics, for 50-year-olds! That should be the Middle Age Olympics; leave the Senior Olympics to us seniors.

We have our strengths and our weaknesses, but no arena in which to show them off. Let’s get out there and start striving! Let’s get a little publicity for our efforts! Get AARP on our side and we are good to go!

See you in the gym.

Ann Echegoyen lives in Spokane. She can be reached by e-mail at ggma_spokane@


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