We are the aged. Hear us

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Sunday columnist Peter Leith is 89 and says he is ‘half-deaf and half-blind’. He faces daily challenges but he makes every day – and every word – count. He is offended by reports that older Australians are “a burden on the taxpayer”. This is his response to that statement and his manifesto on how to treat older Australians.


Hear us. We are the more than three million Australians over the age of 65.

Hear us: We are taxpayers and have been ever since we were old enough to work, earn and spend money.

Hear us: We may be in a retirement village or low-care hostel from choice or because of increasing frailty or some physical limitations, but we are not necessarily mentally or intellectually handicapped in any way, so, please, do not treat us as if we are.

Hear us: We do not care for the booming, loud-voiced helpers who sweep into the day room and bellow, “How are we all today dears!” Nor do we like those who do not actually say that but adopt a similarly condescending manner.

Hear us: We ask for and insist on resident representation on the management committees of every aged-care facility.

Hear us: We all have skills, talents and life experiences that can benefit the community environment in which we now live.

Hear us: We neither like being, nor want to be, treated like backward children.

Hear us: The most common form of ‘elder abuse’ is not sexual or physical but disempowerment.

Hear us: We are the shape of your future, if you live long enough.

Do you have anything to add to Peter’s manifesto? Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Peter’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith


Total Comments: 41
  1. 0

    There are those who are losing their reason. Perhaps they may value from some a degree of childlike guidance…I have not been there yet. For most, however, Peter’s comment on “…loud-voiced helpers who sweep into the day room and bellow, “How are we all today dears!…” would be recognisable and distasteful even if we have not been there.

    We have failed in one thing though. True, we have maintained a grandparent role in many children’s upbringing we have also earmarked a role in some charity organisations but we have failed to build a society truly inclusive for elders where their many strengths can be put to day to day use. It is not a bad thing to be taking part of a job. Work must morph to cover the needs of an entire society and opportunity abounds.

  2. 0

    What would that generation have if the aged hadn’t been paying tax, absolutely nothing, so stop whingeing, you will be this age one day.

    • 0

      Very True … New generations are extremely selfish …. they will never think about this at all ……they know best ….

    • 0

      If they are fortunate enough Ducky!

    • 0

      Selfishness starts at home … the post boomer generations simply reflect the levels of generosity shown them by the boomers and will increasingly be in for their chop as they move into the positions of influence and power. This should surprise nobody, the boomers have had their chances.

  3. 0

    Agreed, Peter. Though I have seen a friend be the victim of financial abuse, and felt helpless. Eventually, friend’s health declined and her family came to sort through things and realised. So, no more financial abuse. But it is hard to help when friend is trapped in that morass and simply continues the habits of years. I did try to explain things to her, but at the time she didn’t believe what he was doing.

  4. 0

    Hear hear! I think it is abominable when as soon as we are out of the work force, many feel we have no further purpose in life but think of all the volunteers out assisting communities. Many of these wonderful people are past the official retirement age and are volunteering their time, expertise etc, free of charge!

    • 0

      Commendable efforts from community volunteers. It’s a shame more organisations don’t tap into the retired community expertise looking for opportunities to give back.

  5. 0

    I agree with Bella54 re volunteering. There are so many wonderful opportunities to do volunteer work once we retire. One of my best Life Experiences were the few years I volunteered at Father Bob Maguire’s soup kitchen before he was booted out of the church for spending too much money on the homeless instead of the church. He was always hilarious and there was always laughter, even although it was usually ‘black humour’. It was a privilege to befriend many of our homeless people. Heartbreaking to hear their stories but such a wonderful experience to be able to help them in small ways. Volunteering after retirement is a whole new Life Experience.

    • 0

      I agree with you and Bella54 about volunteering, as I have been doing it for the past 8 years, first as a volunteer, then as co-ordinator of Armidale Digital Learning Center. We have ceased functioning now as the premises we were in are being used by the owners, our local council for instruction purposes. Volunteering is truly a great way to help other people, in particular the elderly.

  6. 0

    A grave stone : Remember young man as you pass bye as you are now so once was I,as I am now so shall you be , so be prepared to follow me .

  7. 0

    I can relate to that ….

  8. 0

    We, are aged, hear us roar,
    Many of us started poor,
    Fought in many ways to make a decent life.
    Now we finally want to rest,
    Settle back with some of the best,
    And all the bastards do is bring us strife…

    • 0

      Well done Trebor. What a talent! There are so many problems with the way the aged are perceived and referred to. The Govt itself plays this game by calling the Aged Pension “welfare”. Nothing is equal in this world and not everyone has had the opportunity of a well paid job, no costly major events in their lives and the list goes on and on. Ageing is normal and everyone will get there eventually. The way some people talk anyone would think they are somehow going to cheat death and live forever. Get real is what I say! I am not religious but the Golden Rule is really the only one we need to live by.

    • 0

      Golden Rule = he who has the gold, rules. Business 101

    • 0

      He who makes the rules has the gold.

  9. 0

    And amongst that three million some of our own tell us we are worthless because we rely on the pension. They call us ‘leaners’ which is such a derogatory term.
    People have value in many ways and everyone should be respected.
    I know who I am and what is important to me and know that worth is not based on whether you are rich or poor but rather on whether you are a decent human being.

    • 0

      Couldn’t agree more, Paddington, but respect works both ways. During the election campaign, we saw a lot of disrespect for retirees who don’t receive pensions – demands to slash incomes that, in many cases, were LESS than pensioners receive, forcing them to drain savings achieved through years of sacrifice and potentially end their lives in undeserved hardship and making their independence and willingness to take moderate and carefully calculated risks for the nation’s benefit a punishable offence.

      Retirement conditions won’t improve until we all stand together and support each other – the self-funded demanding a better deal for struggling pensioners and pensioners demanding recognition of the fact that the contribution to the Treasury made by funding one’s own retirement is of great value to the nation and that contribution should be and rewarded. There is no justification for regarding the self-funded as lambs for slaughter, nor their life savings as the property of others – however needy some others may be. Neither is there justification for condemning pensioners to hardship, denigrating them for needing support, or punishing them for earning a little on top of the measly amount the government hands them.

      George nailed it with his request that we all support a demand for a universal pension, not means tested. We all paid our dues in one way or another, and we should all now receive fair recognition and reward. An adequate universal pension, tested only on residency and age, combined with a fair tax system would be better for the nation and certainly better for the aging. Much better overall for society.

  10. 0

    I have never felt that i have been a burden on society. My regret, i should have been more greedier when young!b I should have had: New cars, holidays , avocado mash breakfasts, then plus some!! just like these new generational greed merchants. Want, want and now, thank you! Blame our government for starting the “the elder have become a burden on our society” we cannot afford these “burdenites” hence the taketh of most “burdenites” pension, January 2017!!

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