„Nothing makes one old so quickly as the ever-present thought that one is growing older” Georg Christoph Liechtenberg
The old age is referred to as the autumn of life, second youth, or the golden years. This is the final stage of life – it is an inevitable part of life which is going to be experienced by everyone, whose life wasn’t tragically interrupted in their youth. It is the time which everyone goes through in a different way – there are as many shades of getting old as the number of people’s life stories.
Growing old is a constant process taking place from one’s birth. Its course depends on genetic factors, one’s living conditions and lifestyle.
The World Health Organization divides the process into 3 stages:
Consecutive stages involve progressing physiological and mental senility:
The way we perceive the elderly depends on many factors. The young, the middle aged and the old perceive the old age in a different way. The boundaries of the old age are approximate. It often happens that people, who are more than 60 years old, feel young, and are far from regarding themselves as old, so the boundaries of the old age are flexible.
Who is considered to be old irrespective of age? – a person who ceased to be active and lost his or her vitality – the symptoms of growing old are obvious in such a person.
There are many stereotypes about the old age. They influence the way we perceive the elderly people. The “youth cult” which is prevailing in the society often causes the marginalization of the elderly people – this concerns the professional life and the participation in the society. This is opposed to the kind, respectful approach which we owe the old.
Growing old has its benefits. It is the time when people go through their “second youth”. See what the benefits of the golden years are:
The amount of free time available increases with the end of professional career. One can devote it to pursue one’s passions, to rest or travel.
This is the time when grandchildren appear – one can use the amount of free time and the life experience to help raising them.
Many people decide to take up volunteer work to use one’s abilities and time to others’ benefit.
Third Age Universities offer different kind of studies for those seeking knowledge – if one didn’t have the time to study until now, the retirement offers such possibility. One can also take part in many activation programs for people who are 50+, 60+ years old – these are often subsidised by the European Union.
Some people when asked what they fear the most would answer – growing old. What makes some people think this way about growing old?
For some people growing old is connected with many ailments which develop with age – to name a few these are urinary incontinence, memory impairment, osteoporosis, rheumatism, obesity, dementia.
Impairment of one’s physical fitness – it leads to becoming dependant on others and brings growing frustration because of the lack of independency.
Many old people think that they are useless and rejected by the society. Often this is accompanied by loneliness – one’s partner or friends who are the same age pass away, children live their own life.
Deterioration of the quality of life – the pensions are lower than the salary for the full-time job one used to have.
Older people become scared of death; they experience sorrow due to the fact that their life is coming to an end. Thought about the wasted opportunities and unfulfilled dreams make one depressed.
Loved one’s old age – how to help?
We usually come across the old age in our family members. We don’t always know what to say, how to treat that person, and how to help in order not to hurt that person’s feelings.
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