An Old Doctor Grows Older

An old man, I am convinced that aging is no disease, but a normal part of living, just like childhood. Society should provide for our inevitable decline rather than support research to postpone our dying. Retirement, now so arbitrary, defines when men and women are old, and so discards contributions from the elderly who want to work. As a physician, I am sure that many of us over 65 could help to assist the caregivers who have so little time. Ageism is part of the problem: medical students learn ageism in their early training, and that ageism is reinforced by later contact with the frail sick elderly who come to them for care. Aging—and death—have grown invisible to the young. But now that we elderly are so many and, thanks to good luck or the Creator's grace, so healthy and still so active, we need to exercise the power of our numbers. We have obtained many rights, like "early-bird suppers" and discounted bus tickets, but we need to talk more about our duties and even about our obligations to the young who will someday take our place.