Older people are being left out of discussions… until now

Old woman with flowers wearing hat
Older people need to be included in current social and political debates. (mage: iStock).


Actress and activist, Jane Fonda along with Robert Redford is starring in a new movie, Our Souls at Night. According to Studio 10 on Wednesday, the movie is about Addie Moore  and Louis Waters, who fall in love with each other in their senior years.

I have no intentions of seeing the movie, to be honest, (might one day. who knows), but it got me thinking about how society is just starting to add older people in discussions about social issues.

Mental health is one. In 2016, Mindframe reported that the age demographic with the highest suicide rate was men over 85. To his credit, Sky News’ Australia’s Paul Murray has raise this issue on Paul Murray Live. Other than that, you don’t hear much about it in the media.

Also to do with mental health is the impact that becoming widowed can have on the spouse left behind. Loneliness and often abandonment from family are also issues that too many elderly people face.


Then there are the social issues like same – sex marriage (I know everyone’s sick of the topic, but please hear me out).

When the issue of same – sex marriage is raised, it’s often young LGBTQ people that are the point of the discussion. It’s the mental health of young LGBTQ+ that cause commentators to worry and for politicians to attack. What isn’t talked about as often is how it affects LGBTQ people over fifty. On Monday, a man, probably in his fifties or sixties, rang up Sydney’s 2GB, saying that the marriage debate had brought back bad memories from when the Australian LGBTQ community started demanding rights, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The 1978 protest, the first Mardi Gras in Taylor Square started peacefully, but turned into a violent clash between gay, lesbian and transgender people and the police, which saw a number of the protesters were arrested.

One day, I was reading a Facebook post from a counselor who said that he had an increase in the number of LGBTQ+ clients contacting him for help during the same – sex marriage debate. A number of these were same – sex couples over fifty; those who lived through the period when homosexuality was criminalised. These debates were deja vu for them.

Older gay couple
Older people tend to be left out of the same – sex marriage debate, despite the affects that the 1978 clash with police might have had on them. (Image: iStock)


Poverty is another dire issue that many elderly people, especially women, face. One of the reasons for this is a lack of super, due to having time off to have a baby. This is a reason why I do support some sort of adequate paid parental leave scheme for new parents. Also, this is why the energy debate in Australia is so heated (no pun intended) at the moment. Of course, people should be able to live comfortably in their homes during the range of weather conditions that Australia is well – known for!


I’m certain that there are multiple other issues I can add. I’ll just leave you with this. People over fifty need and deserve our love and support. They should be a part of our national debates. They need to be heard.

I’d ask people too, if you have elderly people in your life, grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, friends, that you check up on them. Keep them in your mind and (if your religious/ spiritual), in your prayers.

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By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

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