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Lecturer at School of Education and Psychology
The term "old age" designates a stage of life, as valid as any other. It is still considered as such in evolutionary psychology treatises. However, it is nowadays a pejorative term. To call someone old can be interpreted as an insult and for this reason euphemisms such as "the third age", "the golden age" and "our elders" are used.
Fortunately, the increase in life expectancy is giving more social prominence to the elderly than in previous historical eras. They now count more socially, as they are a large population of consumers and voters. However, there is still a prejudice about this age group: it is seen only as a burden. A utilitarian society, such as today's, cannot understand an apparently unproductive stage.
The ills of old age do not stem only from the aforementioned social undervaluation and the progressive loss of physical and mental Schools : some personal attitudes also play a major role. Somehow, happiness or unhappiness in the aging process depends on oneself. There are old people in their 20s and young people in their 80s.
For André Maurois: "Old age is even more than in white hair and wrinkles, in that feeling that it is too late, that the game has already been played, that the scene belongs henceforth to another generation. The real evil of old age is not the weakening of the body; it is the indifference of the soul" (An Art of Living). The evil is the lack of hope and the Withdrawal to continue learning. For Azorín, "old age is almost nothing more than the loss of curiosity".
Cicero's "De Senectute" (On Old Age) sample features Cato the Elder, a vigorous 84-year-old man, conversing with two young disciples of his. Cato attributes the defects commonly attributed to age, to the individual himself, and not to old age itself. For Cicero the old man cannot do what a young man does, but what he does is better.
Aging well requires accepting old age and being realistic about one's own possibilities. A frequent defect of the older person is to aspire to the same feats of his youth, for example, to ascend to the same summits; frustration and failure reveal to him that time has not passed in vain. There is also often the opposite defect, that of self-limitation, thinking that one can no longer give more of oneself. There are testimonies that disprove this. One is that of Pau Casals, the brilliant cellist, who remained active until he was 90 years old. Another is that of the painter Pablo Picasso, who at the age of 80 was still working 14 hours a day. These two cases are exceptional, but they show that in old age the talent related to what we are passionate about is not totally extinguished.
In the art of aging, it is very important to remain active, both physically and psychically. An organ that is not exercised atrophies. A physical exercise adequate to the possibilities of each person (even if it is reduced to a daily walk), maintains the muscular strength, the speed of reflexes and the capacity of reservation of the respiratory and circulatory apparatuses. On the contrary, the sedentary lifestyle and the permanent idleness originate obesity and somnolence. For mental exercise, reading, hobbies and socializing with friends are advisable. But to exercise as grandparents is usually one of the best therapies against the leave self-esteem frequent in old age.
The current labor status of many families (work professional full-time of both the father and the mother) has coincided with the lengthening of the life of the elderly. Many young parents who cannot reconcile work and family, are counting on the partnership of grandparents to take care of the children. With their availability and capacity for sacrifice, these grandparents are erasing the image of the "flower grandparent"; they are now active and necessary members of the family. The illusion of being a grandparent is an ingredient of happiness.
In order to age happily, the elderly need the support of others, especially their families, at financial aid . Materially, financial aid is not enough; they need to feel listened to and understood in their circumstances of age, health and possible loneliness. The elderly need to live in an environment of acceptance and unconditional love. It is the environment of the family, or, failing that, the one that is closest to the family.