Saturday, March 21, 2009

Old Age

It has been said the past is a foreign country. Old age seems to me to fit the same category in that it is unknown territory. Most of the guide-books I’ve read about it picture a sunset era of tranquillity and kindness. They speak of expanding visions and the giving of sage advice. That’s a possibility. Equally possible is indignity and infirmity, a loss of control and a need for palliative care. Our consumer society’s search for perfection is averse to acknowledge alternatives. It creates it’s own myths, there’s only one way and that’s upward, ever upward with improvement at every step. There are rah rah books galore explaining how we can extend our horizons.

But it is not surprising that old age is a status to which people do not aspire, for at the same time we are bombarded with a decline narrative. Buy this product to delay the inevitable. In the forties a mid-life crisis is apparently our lot. Put it off by swallowing these pills. After that the knacker’s yard beckons. We don’t want to know about that. Such a mentality seeks to make palliative care invisible. It seems to me, even if it is only in the long run in our own best interests, those who remain active should be more conscious not only of those who need it but also those who service it. Their work is important and as the number of aged increase so will their numbers. Like teachers and nurses, if we undervalue their work we do so at our own hazard as well as the community at large.

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