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Growing Old in America

In many parts of the world, life is seen as an ongoing journey composed of stages that each existing individual will face eventually. The stage of growing old in the American land has changed greatly as compared to years ago due to both demographic and economic changes (Fischer, 1978). Views on aging have also had modifications as modernization continues. During the time of ancient Greeks, old age is not measured the way it is done today, in which a person is considered an old person as he reaches the retirement age of 60. For the ancient Greeks, some men aging more than sixty or past today’s retirement age are still part of the military.

They are only considered retired as they die. Thus, old age as a citizen classification in Ancient Greece is a concept that is vague, but if ancient Greek plays will be taken as bases, it may be found that old age is always accompanied by wisdom ergo, respect. These well-respected wise people, are only very few, with most of them belonging to the lower social class (Falkner and De Luce, 1989). As other socio-economic subjects, social class did not fail to have an effect on the ageing of the people of ancient Greece. The poor having not enough to eat, fails to supplement their needs and eventually age faster.

Unlike those in the wealthy class who have more access to more nutritious foods (Falkner and De Luce, 1989). This was also the problem during the medieval times where ageing is more of a privilege than a common part of an individual’s life since many of the children who were born at this era did not live to become ten years old or even seven. Old age during the medieval times is considered as the final stage that people may be happy about because it is proof that one has passed the dangerous years where one may acquire incurable and fatal illnesses (Rosenthal, 1996).

Compared to the Ancient Greeks, it may also be considered as a matter of disposition and social class. As in the medieval times, those who belong in the lower class do not experience a period of retirement. This in turn, affects a person’s view on life and thus affects an individual’s attitude on ageing. It may be the happiest stage of life or the darkest period in his life, depending on the circumstance that affects on many things about life (Rosenthal, 1996). On the other hand, during the time of the ancient Rome, old age is seen as something like a disease or a slow decline in body heat that was abundant during the time of birth.

They believed that this heat is only replenished through eating, drinking and breathing but never completely regained. But this attitude pertains only to the physical aspect of ageing where there occurs an inevitable deterioration of the body (Cokayne, 2003). In the intellectual aspect, ancient Romans like the ancient Greeks see ageing as accompanied by wisdom due to accumulated experiences. Thus, like the Greeks their attitude toward the elderly is one which is full of respect and great honor (Cokayne, 2003). They consider their elders as those who know best and thus must be consulted at all times.

The ancient Romans’ beliefs on old age and their attitude towards it have similarities to that of the Hmong tribe of Laos. They believe that the human body is a vessel of heat and that this heat slowly extinguishes as one grows old but as this happens, wisdom does not leave the body, rather it only increases with age (Symonds, 2005). Even now with the existence of modern medicine and the advent of medical technology, the Hmong’s still rely on the elders’ advice in accordance to their health needs. They still see the elders’ prescription as more reliable and thus development of trust for modern medicine fails.

Somehow attitude towards the elderly hinders in the modernization of the solution to their health problems (Anderson et al, 2001). Therefore, it may be said that the phenomenon of growing old in the ancient times is not a big issue as it is today where modern technology devises ways to prevent it. Then, ageing is almost a royal process that may be considered as the best part of one’s life not only because it brings more wisdom but because it is proof of one’s strength against all the extremities of the world. References Anderson, H. A. MD, Erbach T. , Knobeloch, L. M PhD, Werner M. A. PhD. (2001).

Use of Imported Folk Remedies and Medications in the Wisconsin Hmong Community. Wisconsin Medical Journal 100(7) Cokayne, K. (2003). Experiencing Old Age in Ancient Rome. USA: Routledge. Falkner, T. M, De Luce, J. (1989). Old Age in Greek and Latin Literature. New York: SUNY Press. Fischer, D. H. (1978). Growing old in America: The Bland-Lee Lectures Delivered at Clark University. USA: Oxford University Press. Rosenthal, J. T. (1996). Old Age in Late Medieval England. USA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Symonds, P. V. (2005). Calling in the Soul: Gender and the Cycle of Life in a Hmong Village. USA: University of Washington Press

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