The Wall Street Journal:
This was a week of worry for my family. We were worrying about my 93-year-old mother-in-law—a lovely, bright, kind woman in the cruel grip of arthritis, Alzheimer’s and just plain old age. Of course, this is a commonplace, even banal story for my baby boomer generation, though no less painful for that. And it’s got an extra edge because we aren’t just worried about what will happen to our parents; we’re worried about what will happen to us, not just my husband and me, but our entire aging nation.
Getting old, with its unavoidable biological changes and its inevitable end, might simply seem like an inescapably tragic part of the human condition. (Whenever my grandmother began to complain about getting old, she would add wryly, “But consider the alternative…”)
But it’s hard to avoid feeling that there is something deeply and particularly wrong about the way we treat old age in American culture right now. Instead of seeing honor and dignity, sagacity and wisdom in the old, we see only pathology and pathos.
Could these cultural attitudes actually make the biological facts of aging worse?
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