Hi Tracie, sorry it took me a while to get back to you on this...
Do they 'deserve' to be called Elders? Hmm, I'd agree there's definitely a quality to the word that implies something that has to be +earned+, not there automatically simply because of having lived through x amount of years. 'Respect your elders' or 'honour your father & mother' as it says in the 10 commandments always had a strong suggestion of authoritarianism to me, though it of course depends on the definition of 'honour' and what kind of behaviour it actually recommends. Parents are the first line in human domestication (before school, religion and the legal system get their claws in), and the commandment supports their power over the defenseless child and acts to silence and dismiss any protest or rebellion against abusive childrearing methods that serve the civilised society at the expense of individual autonomy, freedom & general mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people.
That said, I think I was too harsh with my 'all your parents teach you is how to be a compliant citizen and obedient, conformist worker'. That's not all. There's always something human that gets passed along as well, a little 'failure' here & there to apply all the right pressures of cultivation, even if it's massively outweighed by all the 'heinous crap' you mention. I was thinking of my parents when I wrote that, but second thoughts reminded me that I also learned disrespect for pointless rules, love of the outdoors, a taste for decent, relatively healthy food, a fundamental distrust in the promises of consumerism, among other things. It's that part of rewilding where you look to aspects of your own culture's inheritance to find things worth keeping and perpetuating, no matter how small & apparently insignificant.
Maybe the rule is: 'You forfeit your right to be acknowledged and treated as an Elder to the extent to which you foster acculturation to the sick society rather than nurturing the things that are actually important to the human animal and the small groups they operate in'.
Another part of this is the precarious nature of being elderly at the current moment in time when western states are starting to fail in their assumed duty to provide care & assistance in lieu of broad family support. I try to guard against notions that older people need to prove their worth or earn their right to humane treatment because that way lies fascism, 'useless eaters' and all the vicious attitudes & actions towards those perceived as weak or a burden to be carried resentfully - or dropped. If 'respect your elders' works against that outcome by creating taboos around abandonment then I'm all for it. At the same time... maybe I'm not asking the right questions or I just haven't had access to the right people, but it's a long time since I learned something I didn't already know from talking to somebody in their later years. Frustratingly you often have to deal with reactionary baggage that blocks the way to deeper understanding, and you end up trying to teach them! I'm sure it comes across as insufferably arrogant, but there you have it. It would be nice if the folks who preceded you actually had some relevant knowledge to pass on. But that shades into the wider problem of going against the grain of the culture's rotten urges - of course you're not going to learn anything from someone who has spent their whole life pushing in the same direction! Try to get them to consider alternate directions and they will look at you like little children, so underdeveloped is their capacity for thinking outside the imposed limitations of the dominant culture. A bit like how h/ger tribesfolk take the piss out of ignorant westerners who are totally incapable of the simplest task, and just end up having to treat them like five-year-olds.
Anyway, that's all I've got for now