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Mom Is Offended By Senior Discounts

 

Question

"My mother is offended by senior discounts. It’s not just that she’s offended--she gets so irritated with the person asking that she starts berating them. Frankly, it’s embarrassing to be with her when she goes off on a helpless clerk or waitress. They are just doing their job.

Mom is 80 years old and clearly a senior. There’s absolutely no one who would look at her and think she is 65 or younger. She has white hair, plenty of wrinkles, moves slowly, and calls everyone 'dear.' The combination of attributes screams elderly. 

How do I handle Mom’s irritation? Or best of all, how do I get her to stop worrying about looking her age?"

 

Answer

Maybe your mother just doesn’t like a discount? That’s doubtful, though. We all love discounts.

What your mother struggles with is others assuming that she’s a senior citizen. She has likely had varying experiences with others regarding this stage in her life. She may also not have an accurate perception of how she appears to others.

Honestly, people that think they are younger than they actually are often behave in ways that make them seem younger. They move faster, talk faster, stay active, and are current with world events and trends. If your mother were this type of elderly person, I would say she has a point. Based on how you describe her though, she isn’t this type of person.

Your mother may be the type who always looks for something to disagree with. Combine her attitude with the possibility that she has received poor customer service in the past and you may better understand why she acts this way. Sometimes the elderly experience a form of discrimination due to their age. It can be related through impatience, overfamiliarity, an assumption of incompetence, or some other age-related slight. (I’m not suggesting, though, that other age groups aren’t stereotyped and treated certain ways based on their age, because they are.) 

Start by finding a quiet time to broach the topic. Say, “Mom, I’ve noticed that you get quite irritated when people ask if you’d like a senior discount. What bothers you about that?” This could set her off for a while and force you to relive some of her stories of abuse. Circle back to your question when the air clears a bit so that you can get to the core of the issue. Is it that she doesn’t believe she looks 80? Because she doesn’t like how seniors are treated? Does the question embarrass her? Knowing what is bothering her can help you sidestep the discomfort and make your outings more enjoyable. 

Keep in mind that aging is not easy for anyone. Trust me here and believe that the elderly are treated differently than they were when they were young. Many seniors want help, but only when it’s absolutely essential. Your mother is trying to cope, and at times she loses her patience. Do your best to understand and help her with statements she can use if others mildly offend her.

I might recommend she try one of these: “You know, I don’t think of myself as a senior, so no thanks.” “I don’t think I will be able to prove that I am a senior today.” It will really puzzle the servers but will give your mother something witty to say, and maybe tone down what she would have said.

I wish you well on this shared journey and hope that you can offer mom a few responses that might be more appropriate to the situation.

 

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

President & CEO

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