Fall 2014
From "New Horizons" Magazine

Are We Collateral Damage?

by Sharon Hayes, VRSCA Director

The term "senior" has needled many for some time now. Maybe because it sounds vacant and without substance as though it's a philosophy more than a reference to a generation of people. I have tried to find another word for "seniors" - I am one, but have come up short. When looking up acronyms for "seniors" there is none offered. Today I considered one that may be the way other generations think of "seniors" as a way by which to pigeonhole people of age: "collateral damage."

Come to think of it, after a traffic accident if there are unwanted broken bits lying around they are considered collateral damage and swept off to the side. In a war, when something is damaged or a person is killed by mistake, it is collateral damage. Are you beginning to see a pattern?

Are we seniors simply collateral damage in society? There is a school of thought that teaches once something or someone has reached their "best before date," they somehow become unnecessary, redundant and less worthy of consideration, swept off to the side of the road and often left to be carried away with the dust that blows up in the wind, or brushed away like an unwanted and annoying fly.

What about seniors' needs and consideration of them? Are there accommodations made for seniors who are deaf or hard-of-hearing? By accommodation, I mean mutual adaptation between people and groups to provide communication equipment and services for deaf and hard-of-hearing seniors that is prevalent and equivalent to those enjoyed by hearing seniors. In many circumstances and situations, deaf seniors do not have this kind of communication because the internet and Wi-Fi are not available. What is a senior to do if he or she is driving in the middle of desert and needs to call for a tow, but cannot because there is no Wi-Fi in the area?

One final thought. It's the best of times for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing to stand up, organize and fight for a change to ensure full communication access and change to the accepted "collateral damage" mentality. It's time to prove there is wisdom, intelligence and a desire to be active and proactive within the minds of those who are seniors and who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

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