Christmas time always appeals for a more affectionate way to look the more fragile members of our families, to those we usually give little time in our busy lives. Among those, old people is usually remembered in a different and more attentive way and given the opportunity to share family life as a whole, even if they spend most of the year alone and far away, almost forgotten, waiting for a visit or a telephone call.
The fact is that differently from what happens with other ages of personal life we only know what old age is when we are happy enough to reach it!
Old age is a mysterious place you enter in without knowing why till you suddenly discover yourself there when most of the easy things you usually do in your daily life turn to be more time consuming and difficult. Then you may accommodate to the situation or enter a denial process forcing yourself to perform as nothing had happened. If so you become an enthusiastic gymnast, you encourage the speed of your movements, you speak, behave and do things having in mind the one you were and refusing to turn the page. This, in modern terms, seems to be the right decision and the one that deserves public applause.
Nevertheless, in what the variety of seasons life is made off you are loosing something you risk to die without experiencing : the serenity of looking things from the place time had let you to enjoy vivid experience and knowledge of the different paths of life. The choice is between life and performance.
It is rather curious – and it would be impossible to be the other way round – the fact that those who overlook questions related with old age know almost as much about it as we know about death! All the experience we have is other people’s old age and death!
Contrary to what happens when talking about childhood, youth and mature age, no one can talk about old age with precise knowledge.
However, if there are questions that deserve social attention old age is one of them . Due to a lot of well known reasons the age pyramid has been for years inverting its base of youngsters to substitute it by almost centenary people, causing a generations problem very difficult to find a socially satisfactory solution.
It is true you can ask people to work for more a decade or to let life take its way, if without pain and suffering, and give up al those treatments and medicines that keep you alive even when you do not feel like so and social means are showing to be unable to go on with this kind of cares. But this, besides to be seen as inhuman in a society like ours, as gone too far to make people understand that sometimes it is stupid to insist with life. If you were born to live for an hundred years you will accomplish your life time with no need for external help.
Concerning to prolong retirement does not seem an ideal solution. In a world where unemployment increases, machines are being there to do a lot of the work men usually do and human imagination has lost the way of simplicity it seems normal old people get out to give employment to those who are young and want as much to start a family as society needs them to do so.
Tat does not mean – on the contrary! – that old people, who had been the ‘creator’ of the present generations and have done their best to let them a world as good as they can imagine or preview, do not deserve to be cherished and deserve as much comfort, peace and as much care family and society can afford them. It only means that perhaps it is time to begin an education for preparing old age… (to be continued)