Activities for Seniors: It’s All About Respect
There was dead silence when the woman asked us, “Do any of you like finger-painting?” Sounds nice, until you realize the “us” happened to be two dozen seniors, including me. We’d been invited to meet a woman, employed by our landlord no less, said to be an expert in connecting seniors with fulfilling activities. The meeting, which included free pastries and coffee that was the right color (someone had removed the coffee taste), was held in spacious sunlit meeting and community room in the building we all live in.
The question itself? Well, there this woman was (she looked to be a senior herself), standing in front of a group of us and asking in a voice so sugary I was sure she’d eaten a pound cake within the last hour, “Do any of you like finger-painting?”
I leaned over to a friend sitting next to me, a brilliant 93-year-old retired engineer named Abraham, and quipped. “Tell the truth. You’ve been itching to finger-paint all your life.” He laughed.
The problem with the question itself is straightforward, wounding, and condescending. It gives the distinct impression that the one asking the question perceives seniors as being children, and little children at that.
In its best light, it may be well-intended bigotry. It doesn’t matter to me whether the finger-painting question was well-intended or not. The question itself is an insult.