These features include the isolation of the old due to the ever-shrinking size of the family, and to the weakening of natural ties when the elderly are cared for by the welfare state instead of the family doing so. They also include the radical changes that have occurred in values between the generations, which make communication difficult. Older people may also withhold their accumulated wisdom in a misguided attempt to shelter the next generation from unpleasant realities, such as experiences of war, poverty, famine or disease. Finally, because there is no routine cultural mechanism to record the perceptions of the mature, these may become distorted as people grow older, due to a psychological need to reinvent or romanticize the past, or due to failure of memory.
Because older people have progressed further along life's journey than the rest of society, those among them that are self-aware possess inherent insight about the nature of life which is essential in planning the future. However, neither society nor the old people themselves articulates or gives sufficient respect to this unique responsibility. Since these particular gifts are not passed on, the whole of present-day society is deprived.
Although older people have accumulated wisdom, this is unrelated to current values. In the midst of collapsing traditional values, adult members of the population receive little support or guidance in social relations from their elders. The information systems necessary for maintaining family, community and larger social relations are missing. This vacuum of values to reinforce social forms results in little guidance for young people and children as they learn to be socially active.