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Growing Old 美国老年人

Growing Old 美国老年人

  Happy birthday! Do birthdays really make people happy? Of course they do. Birthdays celebrate the day we were born. Moreover, that extra candle on the cake represents another year of growth and maturity-or so we hope. We all like to imagine that we're getting wiser and not just older. Most of us enjoy observing the miracle of growth in others, as well. For instance, seeing our children develop and learn new things makes us feel proud. For Americans, like people in most cultures, growing up is a wonderful process. But growing old? That's a different story.

  生日快乐!生日真能使人快乐吗?这是当然的啊,庆生是庆祝我们来到世上的日子,除此之外,蛋糕上多加一支蜡烛也代表了另一年的成长与成熟--或者说至少我们希望能如此。我们都喜欢想象着自己能够越来越有智能,而不只是变老,我们大部份人也同时较喜欢观察别人成长的奇迹。例如:看到我们的孩子长大并学习新的事物使我们感到骄傲。而对美国人而言,就像大部份其它文化中的人们一样,长大是一个美好的历程,但是变老呢?那可就是另外一回事了。


  Growing old is not exactly pleasant for people in youth-oriented American culture. Most Americans like to look young, act young and feel young. As the old saying goes, "You're as young as you feel." Older people joke about how many years young they are, rather than how many years old. People in some countries value the aged as a source of experience and wisdom. But Americans seem to favor those that are young, or at least "young at heart."

  在美国这个以年轻人为中心的社会中,老化对人们而言并不是一件愉快的事,大部份的美国人都希望自己看起来年轻、行动年轻、并且感觉年轻,如一句古老的名言说:「你感觉自己有多年轻,你就有多年轻。」老年人说自己的年龄时常开玩笑说自己是多少 years young,而不说多少 years old 。某些文化中的人视老年人为经验与智能的资源,可是美国人似乎比较喜欢年轻人,或者至少是「心里年轻」的人。


  Many older Americans find the "golden years" to be anything but golden. Economically, "senior citizens" often struggle just to get by. Retirement-typically at age 65-brings a sharp decrease in personal income. Social Security benefits usually cannot make up the difference. Older people may suffer from poor nutrition, medical care and housing. Some even experience age discrimination. In 1987, American sociologist Pat Moore dressed up like an older person and wandered city streets. She was often treated rudely-even cheated and robbed. However, dressed as a young person, she received much more respect. Of course, not all elderly Americans have such negative experiences. But old age does present unique challenges.

  许多美国的老年人觉得他们的「黄金年代」一点都不黄金。在经济上来说,老年人常是挣扎着勉强度日。退休--通常在六十五岁的时候--使个人收入骤减,而社会保障制度的福利并不能补足差额,老年人常遭遇营养、医疗照顾、和居住环境的问题。有些人甚至曾经碰到年龄歧视的问题,在一九八七年有一位美国的社会学家派特?摩尔装扮成老人在街上游荡,结果人们多半对她很粗鲁,甚至骗她或抢她的东西,可是当她穿著年轻时,人们就对她尊重多了。当然也不是所有的美国老人家都有这样糟糕的经验,不过年纪大确实会遭遇一些特别的挑战。


  Ironically, the elderly population in America is expanding-fast. Why? People are living longer. Fewer babies are being born. And middle-aged "baby boomers" are rapidly entering the ranks of the elderly. America may soon be a place where wrinkles are "in." Marketing experts are already focusing on this growing group of consumers. And even now the elderly have a great deal of political power. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), with over 30 million members, has a strong voice in Washington.

  而很不幸偏偏美国老年人口又正在扩增中--很快速地扩增,为什么呢?因为现在的人越来越长命,婴孩的出生却减少,而当初在婴儿潮时出生现在是中年人的很快地就要进入老年阶段了,美国恐怕马上会成为一个皱纹「很流行」的国度。行销专家们已经开始注意这群人口持续增加中的消费者,而这群老年人现今甚至在政治上也相当有力,因为美国退休人员协会拥有超过三千万的会员,对华盛顿具相当的影响力。


  A common stereotype of older Americans is that they are usually "put away" in nursing homes and forgotten about. Actually, only about 5 percent live in some type of institution. More than half of those 65 or older live with or near at least one of their children. The vast majority of the elderly live alone and take care of themselves. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 75 percent own their own homes. Over a million senior adults live in retirement communities. These provide residents with meals, recreation, companionship, medical care and a safe environment.

  一般人对美国老人家的刻板印象是被「遣送到」养护院去,然后被人遗忘。然而事实上,只有百分之五的人住在此类机构中,超过半数的六十五或六十五岁以上老人,是与孩子同住或住在其中一个孩子的附近。绝大部份的老年人是自己住并自己照顾自己的,根据美国户口调查局的统计,他们百分之七十五拥有自己的房子,超过一百万名老年人住在退休者的社区中,这些社区为其居民提供饮食、娱乐、友谊、医疗照顾、以及安全的环境。


  Despite the challenges they face, Americans in their "twilight years" generally refuse to give up on life. They find a variety of ways to keep themselves active. To help them stay in shape, they may join mall walkers clubs, fitness programs and even the "Senior Olympics." They can enjoy hours of entertainment at senior centers and adult amusement parks. Many enroll in continuing education programs to maintain their mental skills. For Americans, if you're going to grow old, you might as well do it gracefully.

  纵然他们遭遇挑战,处在迟暮之年的美国老年人通常还是不愿意放弃他们的生活,他们寻求各种不同的方法使自己更有活力,为了保持强健的身体状况,他们参加购物中心的竞走俱乐部、健身课程、甚至奥林匹克老人运动会。他们可以在老人中心和成人公园里逍遥好几个小时,许多人报名参加延伸制教育以维续他们的心智技能。如果你是将要进入老年期的美国人,你也可以优雅地做做这些活动。