Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The death of an old person...

"The death of an old person is like the burning of a library." So wrote Alex Haley, the author of Roots, and other stories of African origins. ( Or, if he didn't write it, he 'borrowed' it from his African past, as the words are often thought to be an African proverb. )

It's quoted in an article on caring for old people - I make no apology for this being nine years old (nothing on the Net ever grows old!) - called Aging and Ageism: Can You Have One Without the Other? by Karen Henderson.

The author looks at our attitudes to old people: Everyone gets old. None of us should be surprised or angry; it's a fact of life. But what's also a fact of life is this: we don't treat older people as people. We treat them as a commodity to be used, abused and disposed of as we see fit. We somehow learn to raise our children; we try to give our pets a good life. Why can't we extend the same efforts to our older people?

The article isn't long, but it has plenty of good things to say about older/elderly people (they're always people who are older than me, by the way!) and the way we think about them, and act towards them. It's probably addressed to the inbetween generation - those who have elderly parents and growing children - but it's applicable to anyone, anywhere.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

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