Senior Assisted Living Residents Battle Against Age Discrimination
Gloria Hao Schneider
After traveling across the United States and making plans for a trip to Eastern Europe, Arlene Meyer thought signing up for a new Internet service wouldn’t be a problem. But the young man behind the counter had other ideas. He said she was barred from signing up for their service because she was too old. The 79 year old would only be allowed to sign up for the South Valley Phone Depot Talk-Talk phone and broadband package if she was accompanied by a younger member of her family, or someone who was responsible for her care. They said this was to ensure that someone could explain the small print to her. Senior assisted living communities are educating and informing baby boomers of their rights, so they can be prepared if such situations arise.
Mrs. Meyer, who sits on the board of several charities said, “I was absolutely furious. The young man said, ‘Sorry, you’re over 70. It’s company policy. We don’t sign anyone up who’s over 70.’ The company policy was enforced so that anyone over 70 would make sure they fully understand the contract. “I have just completed a visa form to go to Eastern Europe. Last year we did one for walking the Wall in China and here is this person saying I would not be able to understand a basic form – and it was basic. It is pure ageism.” This policy seemed to have good intentions but should have been used with discretion. If people can see the senior citizen is coherent there is no need for companies to enforce chaperoning and policies such as this.
“Somebody has decided when you turn 70 you lose a lot of your mind. I find this is ridiculous.” When her case came to light on a local radio station, South Valley Phone Depot admitted it had adopted an over 70 rule. But the firm insisted it was not a blanket policy and claimed the guidance was to protect the elderly. According to the company’s spokesman, “It is not our policy to refuse business from adult customers of any age group. However, we do ask our agents to use their discretion when dealing with older customers.” She added that the over 70 policy had been introduced in response to complaints that their company had improperly sold products to senior citizens last year.
A local city official named Jim Berringer, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on older people, described the practice as ‘deeply offensive’. He said “It is nonsense to assume those over the age of 70 cannot understand this sort of package, especially with the huge explosion of ‘silver surfers’ using the net.” New laws next month will outlaw ageism in the workplace. But Help the Aged wants the rules extended to protect senior consumers as well. “We see companies putting in place arbitrary age rules all the time” a spokeswoman said. “To deny people services because of their age is just crazy. There needs to be legislation to address this.” Senior Assisted Living Facilities understand the importance of protecting the elderly and also letting them live independently as long as they are physically and mentally capable. Senior assisted living communities are constantly making sure their residents aware of such issues so they can be prepared and know what their rights are. Senior assisted living communities help seniors understand contracts and service policies if they request for proper guidance or advice.
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Assisted Living Marketing services are provided by 800Seniors.com, a leading referral system in the Assisted Living Industry. For more information, call 1-800-768-8221 or visit http://assistedlivingdalton.com/