In our society, we patronise the old and the disabled. I think this is partly guilt - because we don't really do enough for them generally - and partly because we don't know how else to deal with them and their problems.
My sister, disabled from birth and now wheelchair-bound, lives in sheltered accomodation. For Children in Need, the warden sat in a bath and invited the residents (nearly all elderly) to throw things at her. Amusing? Entertaining? No. Not really. Having got over the cringe factor, my sister gamely opened some tins of things and threw them at her, but nobody else joined in. You wouldn't do this to a group of, say, bankers, doctors, coalminers or whatever. But the disabled are fair game. At Christmas, this same establishment is visted by the mayoress, who distributes gifts of tinned food and teabags. Nobody wants or need these gifts, but (presumably) the mayoress goes away feeling all warm and fuzzy, becuase she has done a Good Deed.
And then there's my uncle, about whom I've blogged before. On his birthday, the home where he's a resident organises a cake (with candles, naturally) and crackers and paper hats, and we trog along and have a little party. This is equally cringe-making. He doesn't know how old he is, or that it's his party. He is bewildered, and thrown out of his (very limited, but safe) routine. His housekeeper, who adores him, thinks this is all lovely. But it isn't. It's awful. His 94th. birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I would ike to boycot the party and pay a separate visit instead, but that will hurt various people and make me very unpopular ("his niece never even came to see him on his birthday!"). I am his next of kin. It's expected of me. But this year, I don't think I shall go. Other people won't understand, but my uncle, when he had his wits about him, would have agreed with me.