Today’s culture in America is truly negative against those who are aging. It’s an abomination to the “beauty” companies who keep improving their formulas so that one might have less wrinkles. We puncture our skin with needles and knives to get tighter skin, while we insert foreign objects that were not created by the God of Creation into the very body given to us- simply to deny our own age.
Women fib their ages by decades while men go into mid-life crises trying to prove they aren’t as old as their birth certificate proves.
Why do we hate age so much in this culture?
In many other cultures- that have some how stayed untouched by America’s brashness- age is something to be venerated. They hold a special place in the family hierarchy and those who hit a certain age are sought after for their wisdom. In tribal cultures they are the rulers of the village- guiding it along treacherous paths so that they might thrive. In many cultures the grandparents live with the children, helping take care of the grandchildren and helping the family prosper. They have respect and honor.
Then there is America. Where we have totally turned upside down what it means to be family. Where more families are torn apart by selfishness than anything. Where broken families are meshed together with other broken families in an attempt to heal which causes more problems than it mends. Where family members are replaced, misplaced, and displaced as easily as a pair of shoes. Where family is something you make rather than being born into, when gathering a group of friends that fit your criteria is better than your own blood. This is America in all of her broken misunderstanding.
But, then when we age, our family- because of our culture- decides we no longer matter in the grand scheme of the family. So we do our ‘duty’ hopefully and place Grandma/pa in a nursing home– spend the money so that they are out of sight out of mind. We can’t be bothered taking care of an ailing human who only takes up time and valuable resources. Better to pay someone else to do so we don’t have to be bothered.
So life goes on.
We fight the act of aging because we fear the very thing we have done to our own parents happening to us.
The Baby Boomer generation in fact are facing this dilemma more than anyone right now. There are more than 78 million baby boomers out there who are hitting the age of 65. As a caregiver many of my clients will now be part of that generation. They will also be the ones who will fight the most about what it means to be considered old. And because of their own actions towards their own parents- their children will mimic them. They will most likely be one of the most forgotten aging generations in the retirement and nursing centers than any previous one. Many families have not instilled in their children the need to respect and honor their elders, so many children and grandchildren will not understand the need to care for their aging family members and will even begrudge the need to put money towards their care.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are on the way to being a normal action of an aging generation because they fear age and suffering- and they want to die on their own terms.
Age is beautiful. Your face will show the pages of your life. The silver of your hair will show the wisdom you have gained through pain and joy. Why do we fight something so beautiful?
I served a woman who made it to her 105th birthday- a woman who lived through the War to End all Wars- twice. A woman who saw technology create wondrous things never thought possible. She met many people and she was a blessing to know. She didn’t fear death but embraced life like an old friend. The beauty carved into her face made her radiant. A small woman in stature but a giant in personality. To sit at her feet and hear the stories are some of my fondest memories.
I love to hear the stories these elders carry. Sadly, many of them will go unheard and forgotten because we can’t be bothered to take the time to listen. Wisdom will be loss and ignorance will be hailed the victor.
Embrace age I say! Sure, your joints will ache, your sight might fail, your hearing might go- but share your wisdom. I am not saying that age doesn’t have it shortcomings but the wisdom that you can impart is worth so much. Don’t let your children be ignorant and don’t hide from age. No matter how much one might hide- it will always find you. You think you might erase your wrinkles of years pass, but one day you’ll look in the mirror and realize that you look much older now than if you had just let life creep over your face the way it was going too.
A poem I wrote to a client who was apologizing for getting old:
You’re Not Old!
For Ann M-C
By Ranelle Gildersleeve
You don’t eat slow- you’re savoring every bite!
You don’t walk slow- you’re smelling the roses!
You aren’t hard of hearing- you’re having deep thoughts!
You don’t sleep too much- you’re just praying a whole lot more!
You’re joints aren’t popping- you ate Rice Krispies this morning!
You don’t have false teeth- you just have an extra smile!
You don’t go to the doctors a lot- you just go to get updates on their families!
You don’t take too many pills- you are just supporting your local pharmacy!
You don’t forget things- you just keep them in an extra safe spot!
You don’t repeat stories- you just remember the good times!
You’re not old- you just see the world a little better!
A letter from an aging mother to her daughter: The day I am getting old
- Baby boomers ‘driving cosmetic surgery increase’ (mya.co.uk)
- Baby boomers ‘use cosmetic surgery to maintain their looks’ (mya.co.uk)
- Baby boomers shunning marriage with higher rates of divorce and cohabitation (seattlepi.com)