When a chronic condition is a source of emotional pain rather than physical discomfort, when it plagues seniors and is a problem among workers with the most seniority, when it is an ailment that causes a stink-that literally smells-that is when we should aid our colleagues instead of abandoning them.
Now is the time to address an issue that affects many, but attracts the medical attention of few: nonenal or "aging odor," which conventional soaps and deodorants do more to aggravate than alleviate.
That this condition smells bad, that it induces a visual-and visibly negative-reaction among those in close proximity to a person with this disorder, where workers move their chairs or remove themselves to another room so as not to endure this stink-that these things are all too common stinks.
Even worse is how a stink becomes a stigma. That is, when a person feels like a pariah-and his coworkers treat him as such-everyone loses. The person with this affliction dreads going to work, or tries to work from home, while his colleagues fear he will come to their workplace; that he will sit near them; that he will (undoubtedly) cause a stink, thereby forcing workers to flee the area; that his presence is tantamount to the release of an airborne chemical within this windowless, climate-controlled realm of drudgery.
Such treatment is an insult in general and insulting to seniors in particular, who are essential to the health of the economy. If these individuals cannot work, or are unable to work like everyone else, their employers cannot survive, never mind, succeed; because companies need what talent alone cannot offer and what intelligence alone cannot equal: wisdom. The wisdom of experience. The wisdom of longevity. The wisdom accumulated over time, which is priceless.
The wise thing to do, which is also the right to do, is to learn more about nonenal. By educating ourselves about this condition, we will come to understand the importance of moisturizing the skin and neutralizing this odor. We will come to understand how the artisanal products of the East, which contain Japanese persimmon extract, have a ready market in the West. We will also come to understand, I hope, that seniors symbolize strength. From the strength of their ideas to the individual strengths that make them models of inspiration and role models worthy of emulation, seniors have so much to give.
They have much to say, too, concerning ways to improve corporate wellness. Their wellness is in fact integral to the health of those who recruit them, of those who hire them, of those who rely on them. It would be wrong to isolate these men and women. It is wrong to isolate or intimidate them, period. Let us resolve to honor and respect them, so we can all prosper. Let us resolve to be their allies, lest we alienate them and have to admonish ourselves after the fact. We need our seniors, now more than ever.