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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We Decide What It Means to Grow Old

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While I was researching for a recent program about loneliness among seniors, I kept running across statements that seemed to reinforce the notion that aging equals gloom and doom. The assumption seemed to be that aging naturally leads to loneliness. Consider the following question posed in an article called The Aging of Loneliness:  "But why does the loneliness of old age seem somehow different, sadder and more painful?  Is the social isolation that so often accompanies it, or perhaps the physical wear and tear of the twilight years?"  In fairness to the author, I believe the question was posed in an attempt to mirror popular perceptions about aging.  

Why do we assume that loneliness is inevitable as we age?  Is it because we do not celebrate and esteem our seniors?  Is it because we devalue aging and attempt to steer clear, shun and stay away from it at all costs?  Is it because we allow our seniors to be abandoned, swindled, mistreated and neglected?  I wonder why we make these assumptions and what other underlying assumptions we might uncover if we ever get brave enough to work towards redefining what it means to grow old in this country.