How do we want to age?

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Being conscious of how we age can help us understand how others age.

Montserrat Falguera i Julià


Manager of Redós Foundation of Sant Josep i Sant Pere (Sant Pere de Ribes). The Redós Foundation is currently chairing the Federació d'Atenció a la Gent Gran (FEATE).

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The United Nations declared October 1st as the International Day of the Elderly to shed a more positive view on ageing, raise awareness among the population on the situation in which many elderly people find themselves and the challenges and problems they face, as well as to promote appropriate actions to defend the elderly and respect their dignity and wisdom.

Is it really necessary to observe a special day in the year to stop and contemplate such a natural fact of live as ageing? For sure we would like it not to be necessary. Accepting age should be easy; we age since the day we’re born! So what’s the difference in facing the difficulties when we turn 8, 15, 25, 45, 65 or 85? When do we start rejecting getting old?

A person who turns 65, when one retired until very recently, is still considered to be “young for some things”. On the one hand, we fear crossing the boundary of retirement and on the other we can’t wait to retire and enjoy life. All in all, this causes mixed feelings because we don’t know what we really mean by “getting old”. The administration grants us a series of rights as of the age of sixty-five, or based on our ability to perform our daily activities, but even when we need help to develop ourselves with autonomy, at what point can we consider we’re old?

We could stress these losses and on how, as a society, we tackle the changes that are required to adapt to the impact of an ageing population, ho we re-envisage an obsolete care system and the difficulties faced by population in general (the elderly and their families) when accessing a protection system that recognizes the wrongly named “Spanish Dependency Act”...we could...but the proposal though that comes to mind to bring some sense into this day requires a more personal and intimate reflexion.

How do we want to age? Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves this question and overcome this fictitious barrier that keeps us away from illness, ageing and death. We must understand that these facts are part of our life and also part of our present, which is the cause and necessary condition for what we will experience tomorrow.

Illness can strike at any moment, ageing is occurring today and death is uncertain and walks by our side. Why not take a break and become friends?

Turning our backs to something that happens every minute of our life is trying to ignore the obvious. Being conscious of how we age can help us understand how others age and makes respect occur naturally; we understand the process and move on with it.

From this wisdom we will see much more compassionate and adequate policies for everyone’s needs, and will likely allow for a more fair and equitable distribution of resources.

Let’s embrace the fact of getting old and enjoy it.

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