Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If you had to name the one thing that most frightens you about growing old, what would it be?

I could not pick any one thing! I must confess, I have a secret phobia of growing old. Losing my memory, my body wearing out, being treated differently because of my age, and having that different treatment be somewhat warranted. I hate the thought of losing my independence and leaving my well-being and quality of life in the hands of a person who may or may not care what happens to me. It's degrading and scary. I've seen too many elderly people be mistreated or neglected, and it fills me with dread knowing one day, I'll be in their shoes.

This speaks volumes to me about my treatment of old people. My grandpa is in an assisted living place, and I'm so haughty, I never eat the food there when we go to visit him. I open all the doors with my sleeves and I never touch the remote or banisters. I act like older people have germs or something! But it bothers me to see people who were once vibrantly living decompose before my eyes. Joints enflame, eyes strain, skin gets dried out, bones get brittle, hair thins, brain slows, and so many awful sicknesses tear these people apart. The vulnerability that the elderly must embrace after they acted as caretakers for everyone else. Then they are considered worn out and obsolete, having outlived their usefulness to society. It's enraging!

So I sit here at my computer raging, and fearing, because I know that eventually that will be me. And no matter people speak out about treating the elderly with respect, and no matter how much they live that out as an example to the rest of us, this does not change the general perception of old people. But what can I do? I run errands for the elderly I know, or see about, but I treat them with dignity, or at least I try. I'm still a full-of-it teenager so I struggle with treating many people with dignity, but I'm working on it. ; )

But is my fear totally unfounded? And what can I do to help change this degrading perception of the oldest generation?

Originally posted to Xanga on January 1, 2008

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