¶ … elderly treated in foraging societies? Is there any variation, or are the old considered to be useless
The way that the elderly are treated in a particular society varies in accordance to the mores and realities that each individual society faces. This notion applies to foraging societies, in which people hunt and gather food, as well. In most societies the elderly are treated with respect for the simple fact that they have lived a long time, have learned and can teach a lot, and have taken care of others most of their lives. There is a degree of variation in the way that the elderly are treated in foraging societies, which is dependent on the most relative factors for that society.
There are some societies in which the elderly are considered useless entities that cannot hunt or gather. This statement is true for certain indigenous people in areas of Alaska, for instance, in which the external living conditions are exceedingly harsh. The reason for this perception is partly due to the life of those in foraging societies. The way such societies work, the women operate as gatherers of plants and assist with the preparation of food and other domestic tasks. The men...
When there are men that are too old to hunt in conditions in which the weather and certain logistics determined by the natural setting of the land require people to frequently migrate, it is not uncommon for groups to leave their elderly -- even if they are important to the group and functioned previously as leaders.
However, there are also forager societies in which the elderly are not abandoned and left to fend for themselves simply because they no longer can hunt. Some of these societies are those in which the living conditions are not as exacting, and forced removal from certain areas of land due to natural occurrences is not as necessary as those described in the preceding paragraph. In such societies, it is not uncommon for those who are old and perhaps infirm to get support from their immediate families -- if not from the group as a whole. There is a certain degree of homage or deference given to these elderly individuals in such a society. The general idea is that when they were younger, they provided food and necessities for the same children and infants that are now taking care of them. There is a degree of reciprocity in the fact since, when these hunters and gatherers are now old, those children who are adults feel obligated and perhaps even privileged to help these elderly people.
There is a degree of variation in the way that the elderly are treated in the society in which I grew up. It is not uncommon for people to lose respect for the elderly on an intellectual or even a social level. People may tend to disregard the advice of the elderly, or their input whatsoever because they think…
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