Defining Old Age and Aging

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Ralph Waldo Emerson alleged the statement that “it is time to be old, to take in sail.” But what, in fact, does it mean to be old? Does it mean to be wrinkly, feeble, and grumpy? Or does it mean to be happy, successful, and satisfied? It is without a doubt that today’s culture has set many stereotypes and classifications on old age. In this paper, I will address many topics on how old age is defined. First of all, I will describe the ways in which the elderly are perceived in both my culture and my family. Second of all, I will state how my experiences with the elderly have affected my attitude on aging. Third, I will illustrate what I both fear and look forward to in aging. And last but not least, I will explain my thoughts on how a person would meet the criteria for aging well. First and foremost, one of the means in which the elderly are perceived in my culture can depend primarily on the age of the individual doing the labeling. Throughout history, children have been taught stories which “caricaturize old people as rag men, bogeymen, and wicked witches” (Novak 4). When I read that statement, I couldn’t help but think of the evil woman in the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although I failed to know this as a child, I recently discovered that the woman was actually referred to as “The Witch” or “The Old Hag” in the movie. In my opinion, this makes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a perfect example of how the elderly are perceived as somewhat scary by children in my culture. In my family, on the other hand, the elderly are perceived as the most wise, important individuals in existence. I was raised to always respect and honor the elderly, especially my grandparents. I honestly think of it as a blessing to have made so ... ... middle of paper ... there are numerous ways in which old age can be defined. One way may be how the elderly are perceived in your culture, or even in your family. Another way may be how your own personal experiences have shaped your attitude on aging. Maybe what you fear and look forward to in aging affects how you define old age. Additionally, your perspective on how a person ages well might shape your definition. Whether all, a few or a couple, just one, or none of these ways are the ways in which you define old age, there are definite set factors that make you do so. I, personally, use all of these ways in my defining of old age. Works Cited Novak, Mark. Issues in aging. 3. Boston: Pearson Education/Allyn & Bacon, 2012. 4, 89, 90, 113, 114, 128, . Print. "When Does Someone Attain Old Age?." Ohioline. N.p., 2004. Web. 20 Feb 2012. .

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