How Are Senior Citizens Marginalized?

Explore the various forms of marginalization that seniors face, and how it affects their quality of life.

3 min read

While reaching seniorhood is undoubtedly a privilege, it brings numerous challenges that demand attention from society. Some of these challenges include isolation, discrimination, and lack of access to essential services, which can make it difficult for seniors to live a comfortable life.

Seniors may experience various forms of marginalization, including social, economic, health, and digital marginalization. Social marginalization manifests as social isolation and loneliness due to loss of social connections and lack of social engagements, while economic marginalization may occur due to limited retirement income and fewer employment opportunities for seniors, which can make it difficult to access essential services like healthcare and housing.

Why are seniors a minority group in the US?

The number of senior citizens aged 65 and older in the United States is about 62 million, and it is expected to reach 80.8 million by 2040. Despite their sizable population, seniors are considered a minority group, and they share similar characteristics to other minority groups.

One of the reasons why seniors are considered a minority group in the United States is social and economic limitations. Generally, older adults face social and economic disparities like age discrimination, limited access to essential services, and fewer employment opportunities.

Additionally, older adults have a numeral minority, and they represent a smaller proportion of the population compared to younger adults. This results in social and political marginalization, and they may receive less attention and support than younger people.

How are seniors marginalized?

Marginalization of senior citizens manifests in various ways, including social, economic, health, and digital marginalization.

Seniors living alone are likely to face social isolation and loneliness, arising from loss of social connections once they retire. These feelings of isolation can have negative impacts on their mental health and general well-being.

Seniors also experience economic marginalization, which comes with various challenges like fewer job opportunities and reduced retirement income. Most seniors are financially insecure, and they may be unable to afford essential services like housing and healthcare. Also, employment discrimination based on age may make it difficult for seniors with inadequate retirement savings to afford basic needs.

Health marginalization is another form of marginalization that seniors are subjected to. Seniors may experience health marginalization due to the limited availability of health specialists and mobility difficulties, which can hinder their ability to access the appropriate medical care at the right time.

While there have been efforts to make technology senior-friendly, a significant number of older adults feel left out in the era of digitalization. For example, the increased use of technology at the workplace has made older adults feel inadequate and inexperienced compared to younger workers.

What do seniors struggle with most?

Some of the common issues that seniors struggle with include:

Strain in daily living

Dexterity declines with age, making it hard for seniors to complete everyday tasks independently. Hence, older people face difficulties when undertaking daily living activities and sometimes require help and specialized tools to get by. Plus, seniors require additional help and devices to help maintain mobility and safety in their daily lives.

Limited income

Seniors have to contend with a fixed retirement income to afford daily expenses. The transition from a steady paycheck to relying on Social Security checks and pensions can be difficult, and seniors must figure out how to meet their expenses with the available income. Also, housing costs and other unexpected expenses can leave seniors in an uncertain financial situation, and may struggle to maintain a decent standard of living.

Loss of purpose

Once retirement kicks in and parenting is minimal, the sense of fulfillment can blur, leaving seniors uncertain about their place in society. The sense of loss of purpose can magnify feelings of low self-worth and lack of motivation. In addition, being away from work can lead to losing support systems and social connections with former colleagues.

Cognitive decline

As seniors age, they may have to deal with cognitive health concerns like memory loss and dementia, which can make it difficult to live independently and enjoy retirement. They may have to consider moving to a nursing home or age in place with caregivers to help with daily living.

Why is the senior population vulnerable?

There are a lot of stereotypes about elderly people, which often contribute to their vulnerability in society. Seniors may be vulnerable for several reasons.

Seniors may be vulnerable to elder abuse and exploitation, which can include physical, emotional, and financial abuse. Seniors suffering from memory loss or dementia may be more susceptible to abuse due to their dependence on caregivers and family members for their daily needs.

Seniors may have limited access to healthcare services due to inadequate health insurance coverage and mobility challenges. This can result in inadequate treatments for various medical conditions or age-related illnesses, which can increase the risk of adverse health outcomes.

What is the impact of marginalizing seniors in society?

Despite their immense contributions to society and the economy, seniors continually face discrimination and exclusion due to their advanced age. This marginalization can have various impacts on the well-being of seniors.

First, the marginalization of seniors can lead to increased stress levels and poor mental health. In addition, lack of self-confidence can lead to depression and anxiety. Marginalization of seniors can also affect their financial well-being, and living on a fixed income can exacerbate their financial situation. Seniors need money to cover their healthcare expenses, food, transport, and any unexpected expenses, and being unable to afford these costs can affect their well-being.