When I was studying, I read excerpts of a book by Ernest Becker called The Denial of Death. The book, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974, focuses on how humans develop strategies to ignore any awareness of their mortality and vulnerability so that they can keep up a masquerade of immortality for the duration of their lives.

I have realised that it is not only a denial of death that exists in society, but also a denial of ageing and the practicalities that this presents. I am in my fifties and have two elderly parents and two elderly parents-in-law. All four are now encountering practical problems, such as mobility issues and age related confusion. Whilst they have all enjoyed a long and fulfilled retirement, they have ignored the issues that come naturally with ageing, in the hope that they might not happen. But of course they have!

So why do so many people put their head in the sand when it comes to practical issues such as where one lives? Emotional attachment to properties have become a big issue in my family. One side have lived in the same house all of their lives, and the other side built their own house, so they both feel a strong connection to where they live. Yet, they will have witnessed their own parents decline, watched the inevitable change as old age brings challenges to domestic life, such as climbing stairs.

How many times do you hear someone elderly referred to as ‘doing well’ or that they are ‘amazing for their age’ ? Is it because life is a competition to last the longest, living the same way for years? What does this achieve? Absolutely nothing! A change is not necessarliy a bad thing. It might even be a good thing. So I challenge you to experience change, accept that your ageing is not a bad thing, but just part of your journey of life, which will always end with death no matter how much it is denied.

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