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A Positive Image of Aging

Do you feel that your culture respects its elders? It is very hard to have self respect if the culture you belong to does not have that respect as a core value. In the past, older people in most cultures were looked upon with respect and old age wasn't something to be feared. But in many society's today, elders are unfortunately often disrespected and underappreciated.

In African and Asian cultures, being old is still looked upon as a blessing where the elders are honored and valued. In many Native American cultures, the elders are respected as people with great wisdom and are the ones who make the important decisions.

Unfortunately, in many Western cultures, old age has become something a lot of people dread. Any signs of aging must be eradicated with facelifts, plastic surgery and special creams. Old age is often looked upon as an illness, where you are expected to be on a cocktail of drugs to survive it.

Just because our bodies change as we get older, the experience doesn't have to be so negative. If growing old had a more positive image, it would greatly affect how we age. Like a beautiful old tree or a good mature wine, age has its good qualities and these should be celebrated - not eradicated.

Perhaps it's possible to look at ways to change these attitudes. For example in Japan 'Respect For the Aged Day' is celebrated every year on the third Monday in September. On this day people show respect to the elder people, celebrate their longevity and pray for their health. Children create handicrafts in schools to present to older people and the media report on stories of the oldest people in the country.

The United Nations 'International Day of Older Persons', held on October 1st,is celebrated by some people around the world, but perhaps it could become a really special day to be recognised by all. Why not check to see if that day is celebrated where you live and if it isn't, come up with some ideas. You could contact the media with relevant stories, hold events in your locality and schools could use it as a focus for the day with children visiting and talking to older people. With more and more people celebrating in this way it may help towards creating that positive image.

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