Posted in Life

Empathy Experience: Aging

Today we discussed what it feels like to be one of the aging population and what is like on an average day for someone who is aging and develops conditions that essentially hinder their ability to function on a daily basis.

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We were given a series of glasses that heavily obstructed and impaired our vision to simulate cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.  We were asked to perform simple tasks.  One of the pairs of glasses had a color tint that made it impossible to distinguish the true color of the star shaped mock capsules.

In Their Shoes

Participating in this exercise for a few minutes with the awareness that there are people out there who live their lives like this on a daily basis was overwhelming.  It was a glimpse in the world of confusion, frustration, helplessness and depression.  It isn’t easy at all – having to depend on others or having to endure the stigma that comes with being elderly.  How difficult it must be for people who had once been independent.  Aging is natural, but the stigma and emphasis placed on youth in our society greatly contributes to the social norm of disdain for the elderly.  Aging is ultimately unfavorable.

Much to Think About

This was a profound exercise.  We don’t think primarily about some of the social norms we have been conditioned to accept until we find ourselves part of said social group.  By that point, it’s just too late.  This exercise was more than just a mere glimpse of what it’s like to be part of the aging population, it was about a tangible onset of empathy.  Taking a moment to explore that mile in someone’s shoes could transform us in ways we didn’t know possible.