A World of Gerontocracy

February 29, 2024
2 mins read

One of the words that came up in my Wordsmith “A Word A Day” emails was “gerontocracy,” (jer-uhn-TOK-ruh-see) which means “The system of government by old people.” It didn’t specify how old the people would have to be to qualify for this word, but I’m guessing we already have this. So many of our legislators are retirement age or older and they often don’t retire; they just die in office of natural causes. Supreme Court justices aren’t supposed to retire. The only way they can get out of work is to drop dead. 

With all due respect to government servants, some of whom I have great respect for (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and considering that to some, I could be categorized as old, the older voice is very prominent in government these days. But what if every day elderly folks ran public and social life on every level. What would things be like? 

I think instead of bike racks, there would be wheel chair lots and places to chain up a walker. Instead of rent a bike, it would be rent a cane. 

All public information would be in huge fonts and there would be newspapers that would be fourty pages long to accommodate big letters. Public announcements would be really loud and everything said would come with a visual of the person speaking so the hard of hearing could lip read. 

Hearing aids would bounce and have a clapper so they couldn’t get lost.

The temperature of all buildings would be a minimum of seveny-five degrees, with lots of blankets available. 

Restaurants would sell Poligrip and all wait staff would be required to cut their customer’s food into small bites upon delivery. There would be a “no-bib, no service” policy and in place of condoms or feminine hygiene products, there would be Tums dispensers in the restrooms. 

Tiny dogs that can be carried in an elderly lady’s purse would be supplied at all pet stores. 

Upon meeting up, every person would be required to look (with their glasses on) at eighteen pictures of a grandparent’s grandchild (or great grandchild)—not eighteen total, eighteen of each grandchild. 

No more charades. The game would be “try to remember what my adult grandchild does for a living.” Pronunciation counts. All claims of “lawyer, doctor, senator, clergy,” or other braggable professions must come with documented proof. 

Advice columnists’ only subject would be how to keep destructive children off of manicured lawns. 

Fulfilling your Starbucks Rewards would result in a free shingles vaccination. 

Halloween would be for elders. They’d hobble, wheel, and/or scoot from door to door collecting anti-inflammatories, baby aspirin, and/or Lipitor. After they were done, they’d gather around a campfire and tell “my scariest surgery” stories. The person with the least joint replacements would have to start the fire. 

All doctor’s appointments and medical procedures would have to be scheduled for after the Today Show and before that cooking show, you know, with that girl with the dark hair who talks about her dog a lot that is on channel twelve. And not during lunch. 

A Rave would be elders getting together to hear the music that was popular when they last ate saturated fat, sugar, or more than 2,300 mg of salt in one day. 

Reminiscing of Thanksgivings past wouldn’t be about the family members they missed. It would be about trying to remember what gravy tasted like. Santa and Mrs. Claus would be referred to as “those young whippersnappers.” 

Trivial topics like discussing the weather or current events would be set aside for more important information, like what corn does to your GI system and if you had a BM yet today. 

Vending machines would sell Ensure, hearing aid batteries, eye drops, and Ben Gay.

Watches would be the size of smoke detectors and would be worn upside down on the over the stomach—and they would talk, telling the time, but also saying things like “Time for your heart pill.”

And it goes on . . . We’re all headed there . . . if we’re lucky. Happy Easter and may you have a “clean” colonoscopy report!

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