Home > English, Society & Culture > Geriatric Economics – Why Valuing Our Seniors Enhances Social Welfare

Geriatric Economics – Why Valuing Our Seniors Enhances Social Welfare

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by Marquis Codjia

For the past 12 months, the Obama administration has grappled with healthcare reform, a thorny issue that became the poster child of infecund partisan musings in Washington.

Both sides of the argument agree nonetheless on one premise: healthcare reform, like all other entitlement revamps, is pivotal to lessen the specter of a potential US bankruptcy in case benefits paid within the program outgrow cash receipts. .

At the moment, officials are slighting an important area that is indissolubly tied to the ongoing debate: the nation’s overall “geriatric policy”.

Geriatrics is the medical branch that focuses on health care of the elderly while gerontology reviews the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing.

Geriatric policy, in this context, refers to the corpus of government programs used to enhance elders’ welfare and reduce medical care.

Improving our geriatric policy can be economically profitable and fiscally palatable to taxpayers.

At this point, two myths on human seniority need be debunked in the collective psyche.

First, there’s no age limit set by medical doctors beyond which individuals must retire. Humans are diverse and health specialists concur that specific factors may affect a worker’s ability to perform their duties, but as long as they possess cognitive and physical function capacities, they may work at any age. Government-enforced retirement age has to do more with politics than biology.

The second point offers some empirical truth about the first.

Many elected officials, corporate executives, prominent social activists and renowned sports leaders usually have some gray hair.

For instance, the US Senate has the highest concentration of democratically elected political seniority in the developed world. The median age of a US Senator is 63 years, roughly the retirement mark for most workers.

Robert Byrd, 92 years old from West Virginia, is the most senior member of that chamber, followed by New Jersey’s 86 year-old Frank Lautenberg.

If the country consents to being governed by aged people, then it becomes facile to argue that seniors possess an invaluable, albeit currently untapped, wealth of experience.

In the west, the gradual surge in life expectancy correlated positively with medical costs over the years because living longer understandably infers higher health care.

Regrettably, our post-modern society is filled with ageism and thus tolerates seniors being ostracized because of their alleged lack of economic productivity or social utility.

This social stance is flawed because we’re squandering a substantial portion of GDP previously invested in formal education, corporate training, medical insurance and other entitlement benefits necessary for a productive workforce.,

In the case of the US, that investment runs in billions of dollars.

Prominent gerontologists JW Rowe and RL Kahn found that an important pillar of successful ageing is an active engagement in life, which in turn ups cognitive capability and diminishes the probability of disease or disability.

Four distinct approaches can help maximize elderly welfare, reduce costs and increase social well-being. For efficiency sake, applicable departments at the state and federal levels (health, social affairs, elder services, etc.) can be horizontally integrated to create an ad-hoc agency, similar to what was achieved in the US intelligence community.

The Government must devise in tandem with the private sector an online database to track skill availability in seniors; if executed well, that website can even generate revenue once popularity drives high traffic.

The 4 programs are as follows:

1) Retired workers helping former companies

Newly retired workers register to the site, indicating their skillset, industry and activity preference. Companies will then call upon former employees (or workers with similar know-how) for insight on specific projects such as IT integration, organizational structuring, staff training, etc. This model benefits the firm twice because former staff are substantially cheaper than external consultants and arguably know more about the company or the industry.

2) Seniors in nursing homes nurturing kids

Elders can be employed in various pre- and after-school programs, from kindergarten to high school. They can even teach based on their “lifetime achievement” experience. Various “exchange programs” can be organized between, say, nursing homes and academic institutions to foster inter-generational bonding.

3) Seniors nurturing  youth and coaching organizations

Elders’ experiences may help assuage difficult youths and satisfy other coaching needs. In this field, aged inmates who have demonstrated good behavior and strong potential for social re-integration may, under certain circumstances, be allowed to advise and mentor others.

4) Seniors in national sporting events

Keeping with the same logic of active engagement, authorities should encourage national sporting events for seniors. Even though the idea of a “Senior Olympic Games” may be far-fetched at present, an interstate competition is a more likely and potentially profitable option in light of the numerous baby-boomers who are nearing retirement. 

  1. John Dean
    March 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Very good article Mr. Codjia. I’ll forward your ideas to our state authorities in New York if you don’t mind. These ideas are awesome, hopefully politics won’t trump reason for once.
    Have a nice day,

    John Dean

  2. Valerie N.
    March 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    This is a wonderful article, especially coming from a younger author. I applaud you for this sir.

  3. Peter
    March 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Hats off for this article mate. 😀

  4. McBride1967
    March 10, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Well thought out.

  5. Jon N
    March 10, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    😀 simply great…….

  6. Hamid
    March 10, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    excellent view of situations happening to senior citizens today. i work for a social group and it wrecks me to see how these ppl are treated. for nothing in the world will i leave my parents like that. it’s a shame what they’re doing.

  7. Schlomo Ben
    March 10, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Very great article on a thorny subject. I do want to specialize on geriatrics in the future and you offer interesting insights. Thank you.

  8. Juanita Suarez
    March 10, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you Mr. Codia. I’m a nurse myself and sometimes i wanna cry when i see how people treat their own mother or father. sometimes i tell myself this is more than crime to behave like that in front of people who gave u birth. In my country, we cannot act like that but in the united states, the situation is different. people don’t have time any more to attend to their loving ones. why is this situation? why? porque? we have to change becauze this is a not good path we’re following.

  9. BlackWhite
    March 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    our society is a traitor and ungrateful, that’s why we don’t care of our elders as soon as they can’t produce anymore.

  10. Powerful
    March 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    thx for ur article my friend. but tell me, who told u that seniors are not fine. since Viagra came a few years ago, seniors are happy more than ever. so don’t worry they’ll be fine 😀 😀 😛 😉

    • Viagra Papi
      March 10, 2010 at 11:53 pm

      long live Viagra my friend. 😀

  11. Toko
    March 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    The Role of Seniors

    Seniors as Leaders, Educators, Counsellors, and Community Developers

    Canada has moved a long way in the past decade in recognizing the diverse roles that older adults can play in framing, identifying, and addressing abuse issues in later life. In the beginning, older adults were often uncertain and cautious about discussing the issue of abuse, and in some communities, they were excluded from discussions about seniors’ needs. Now they are often issue leaders. They may carry on important roles on

    boards of organizations dealing with different aspects of abuse,
    committees that are addressing the issue in the community.
    The important role of seniors as volunteers or paid staff on community projects related to abuse or neglect or other aging related issues can never be minimized.

  12. Mammy Loretta
    March 10, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I don’t know how old you are but you write a very excellent article here. I’m over 70 years old and I feel what you’re saying in here. Luckily, I’m not in a nursing home because I have some savings but my kids are treating me like a used car. It is despairing because they forget that one day they too will be old and incapable of doing certain things. You my friend understand that elders have to be respected because they know things that today’s youth may not know.

    God bless you.

  13. Coast Prof
    March 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Are you a professor? I appeciate the insight here. Thank you and have a nice day.

    • March 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm

      No I’m not. Please read my bio on the site.

  14. Diakite
    March 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I don’t agree with u that we’re not doing a lot for our seniors. If someone is busy and needs a job to pay their bills, why wouldn’t they find it better to leave their parents in nursing homes? They have very qualified people over there to take care of them. No? Both my parents are in nursing homes and I see them once or twice a year and they’re fine with that. Because we’re 7 in the family and my other siblings also visit. So I’m not agreein that if someone doesn’t have their parents live with them, they’re doing anything wrong. That’s incorrect.

    I know one day I’ll grow up and my kids will put in nursing home also but I’m fine with that because by then I’ll have enough money to take care of myself and have the best nurses.

    • March 10, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Dear Diakite,
      Thank you for your interest. I’m afraid you have quite understood my article. It provides solutions that we, as a society, can use to leverage our seniors’ vast experience while reducing medical costs. It doesn’t cover individual family dynamics or intergenerational relations.


  15. Hugo
    March 10, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    please when u have chance, please post french translated version. the subject of seniors interests me but google search does not give good translation. merci beaucoup.

  16. Pressure
    March 10, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    thx for a gd article.

  17. Olubaye
    March 10, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    thx my mate.

  18. Port B.
    March 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    😀 good essay here.

  19. NorthSouth
    March 10, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    thank u for treating seriously this rather complex issue.

  20. Doghouse
    March 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks very much for this wonderful article. If only authorities can listen to some of the tips you’re putting in here.

  21. Event35
    March 11, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Senior issues are complex and require a lot of political commitment. It’s not an ez task and we in the us have not been able to crack the code so far. a lot of works remains to be done.

  22. Attept
    March 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    gr8 initiative here to talk abt a tough topic.

  23. Guardia Civil
    March 11, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    excellent ideas, may be tough to implement though

  24. Lost
    March 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    seniors are all we have left. soon, baby boomers will hit the circuit as well, with all the talk about health care, don’t even start with social security. it’s getting worse.

  25. Hola20
    March 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm


  26. ExerciseMum
    March 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    good analysis. 😀

  27. uNdisclosed
    March 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    luv’ the site and ur analysis.

  28. QI
    March 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I’ll never leave my folks in anursing home and i’m lucky ‘coz i really luv’em to death…….

  29. Knowtruth30
    March 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    awesome, keep it up Marquis.

  30. Hitsmea
    March 11, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    thank u for looking into this. it’s always amazed me how old our leaders are but how reluctant they can be when it comes to senior issues. Really baffles me.

  31. pSychogirl
    March 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    hey marquis, long time no hear. hope all’s well, i see u’re gettin bz here. i sent u a mail, reply when u can. we need to catch up. Tania

  32. Lovehurts
    March 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Very god job.

  33. Maria
    March 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve added to my facebook, please accept. thanks, maria

  34. Johnnie
    March 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm


  35. Fightingbull
    March 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    good work, need to expand a bit on how ur four approaches can be implemented in reality. coz there’s a lot of theory here and sometimes reality poses different questions than theory. kudos at least for coming up with these ideas.

  36. Serius
    March 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    good, keep at it.

  37. Hector
    March 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    i Luv ur site.

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