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FAGIN's avatar

Do we allow ourselves to get old in the hope that someone somewhere will find the secret to eternal life?

Asked by FAGIN (181points) May 7th, 2009

I for one do not want someone wiping my arse or feeding me or wiping my nose for me.
I see people in their 70s+ and boy there is no way i want to become so old that i have lose my dignity.Are we waiting for a cure?

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17 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s all part of the process. It’s not a pleasant prospect but there is value in life for the elderly. We allow ourselves to get old because there’s still things worth living for.

RedPowerLady's avatar

There is beauty in old age. I think perhaps your view of the elderly is a bit distorted. I come from a culture that deeply respects their Elders and I enjoy thinking about when I will be one myself.

FAGIN's avatar

Yeah i probably do have a distorted view but with good reason.
I see (on a regular basis)the oldies that life has taken it’s toll on and when talking to these folks all i hear from them is this “it’s no fun being old” and this leads me to my thoughts and this question.
Furthermore,these oldies are being looked after in care homes with no stimulation and a carer who can only speak “pigeon english”.
These oldies did everything for todays society so why do we treat them as if they are spent.(society in general)

wundayatta's avatar

We allow ourselves to get old because it’s better than the alternative.

asmonet's avatar


Our choice is get old or die, and I really want to see as many sunsets as I can before I go, whether or not I can wipe myself.

gailcalled's avatar

Dear FAGIN: I am in my early seventies, which is now the new fifties. My mother, who is 94, still wipes her own ass (such a lovely tribute to the aging population), blows her own nose and feeds herself in a nice dining room with people of a similar age.

So, eat your greens, give up meat and exercise daily. And you too, if you are lucky, may be like me someday.

FAGIN's avatar

No disrespect here but you guys dont see what i see on a daily basis so please cut me some slack.
Try to look at this outside the box.

Darwin's avatar

I do see some people as young as in their sixties who cannot care for themselves. My husband is getting close to that point, unfortunately. However, I see a lot of folks in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who are doing fine. They may not be able to get down on hands and knees and clean under the bed any longer, but they still enjoy being alive. My dad at 84 has even started a new career, publishing peer-reviewed papers in cosmology.

Personally, I plan to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can because I enjoy sunsets and bird watching and many other things. That’s why I go to the gym and lift weights and do cardio.

Optimism is a lot more fun than pessimism.

BookReader's avatar

…this question brings to mind “catch 22”...

bea2345's avatar

Nothing wrong with being old. It has a few advantages. You will think of them in time, @FAGIN (if you live that long).

augustlan's avatar

I understand your point Fagin, in the instances you are siting. I, too, wonder ‘what is the point of living if life is so horrible for you?’. I hope I never get to be a miserable, crabby old person. However, I personally think that those miserable, crabby old people were once miserable, crabby young people. As I am neither at this point in my life, I have no reason to think I will be when I’m older.

As long as there is joy in my life, I want to live it for as long as possible.

gailcalled's avatar

Dear FAGAN: My sister and I just spent 5 weeks visiting w. my mother daily while she was in rehab for a broken wrist. Her unit was attached to the Alzheimer’s wing and patients and staff were able to roam back and forth with no doors or limitations.

I admit that having Alzheimer’s is neither enviable nor the aging that one would choose. The staff were tender, attentive, patient and endlessly forebearing, however. The staff members that I talked with said that they loved their jobs…RNs. Nurses’ Aids, Social Workers, Physica Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians, Activities Coordinators and even the maintenance staff who repaired my mother’s phone and broken leg of her walker.

Everyone spoke either English as a native speaker or perfectly acceptable or often admirable English as a Second Language.

It is hardly paradise, but I come from a family where one older, craven, emotionally-walled-in member shot himself. I’ll choose aging, thanks.

We helped my mother take long daily walks so that her only problem was the wrist. So we got to peek into every room and see the meals and the daily activities for those who could participate.

Some of the daily small joys was the ice cream cart, that came around at 2:00PM, watching some TV in the gathering room, listening to music or being taken for a short drive by either a family member or a paid companion.

I noticed also that there were spouses (both men and women) who spent each day with their husbands or wives, who did have Alzheimer’s. I saw endless acts of random kindness and small affection and attention as their long lives together were coming to an end. I saw toddlers and babies visiting their grandmothers, who were often bedridden.

No one seemed to be looking for plastic bags, knives or ropes.

Supacase's avatar

I don’t particularly want to live forever, but I’m not about to kill myself just to avoid getting old. A lot of how you deal with being old and how happy you are in your golden years has to do with your attitude.

My maternal grandparents are 80 and 82. They are self-sufficient, live in their own home and travel. They are upbeat, loving and kind. My grandpa had a laryngectomy 5 years ago and it was devestating. I believe it was his attitude that pulled him through. The doctors said he recovered like a 60 year old. :)

My paternal grandparents are the exact opposite. Everything that goes wrong is the end of the world, everyone else’s fault and a reason to complain endlessly. They are 88 and 90 and miserable, but they have always been miserable grumpy people. Well, at least my grandma was. I think my grandpa has turned that way since he can no longer get out of the house and away from her.

rooeytoo's avatar

There is an Australian doc who is like Kevorkian. I am 64 and hopefully healthy but I understand what you are saying and I personally take solace in the knowledge that I have access (not legally however) to this choice just in case. I feel it is my right to be in control of my own destiny.

knitfroggy's avatar

Ask yourself this question when you’re 70 and see what you think then.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Well if you’re looking for scientific back ground, they already know what causes aging.

A VERY basic summary is as follows; Your DNA copies itself everytime it is multiplied into a new cell, which is literally millions and millions of times a day. Your DNA obviously contains all of the info that tells your body how to make different parts, how your skin should look, how an organ is designed, how a hormone is made, etc, etc (everything).

Well as you might expect, if you copy something a bunch of times, there will be small errors in the copies, that would accrue over time. Think of it like if you went and took a textbook page with a recipe on it, and you copied it in a copy machine, then copied the copy, and then copied that copy, and so on and so forth 100 times. By the time you got to 100, you probably wouldn’t be able to read the recipe, or at least parts of it would be faded and hard to read. This is basically what happens to your DNA.

As it multiplies, it ends up losing small parts, or being mutated by outside sources (for example radiation or carcinogens). Over time your DNA even gets shorter (the older you are, the shorter your DNA’s total length), and this begins to show as aging eventually. So THEORETICALLY, if you can find a way to prevent your DNA from being damaged/degraded, you could live forever (or at least not die from aging).

(Interesting side note, cancer is caused when a “stop” codon is mutated in your genome. This codon would normally tell a series of cells to stop multiplying when new copies are no longer needed, and they would also lead to the cell’s own “death” sequence [that’s not the actual name, but it’s been a while so I’m light on the specifics]... so in a sense, cancer has already accomplished the feat of eternal life, as it will never die so long as its continually supplied with nutrients…. going along with this, they still have live cancer scrapings they took in the 50’s, alive in a petri dish in a lab today).

bea2345's avatar

We don’t allow ourselves to get old: it just happens. And the quality of my old age has been largely determined by the life I led to come to this point. Most of us hope for a peaceful old age and a quiet death, without too much pain.

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