I've been musing a lot lately on the way we view aging and the elderly. Perhaps this is because I've been in a number of conversations lately where I was the oldest person present; at one time or another comments were made implying either pity or embarrassment for me, as if my age were a disfiguring disease.
This is something that varies from one culture to another. Most of us are aware that in Eastern cultures the elderly are treated with more respect than in the West. Their life experiences and lessons learned along the way are considered, of all things, an asset and not a liability. It is a given in Asia, as well as in most African cultures, that a family will care for aging family members in return for having been raised by them. In the West, this is so often absent that the death of several French senior citizens due to neglect during a heat wave a number of years ago brought it painfully to the light.
I'm not naive enough to believe, however, that the grass is COMPLETELY greener on the other side. Many families, while providing food and shelter for their aging parents, secretly resent that their resources are being drained or that their parents are ungrateful. That said, it would not hurt us, in the West, to learn something about honoring our elders and the road they have walked. For my part, I've resolved to wear what is left of my gray hair as a badge of honor.