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Loving Later Life: Aging and the Love Imperative


The biblical love imperative—reframed as “Care for the aging other, as you care for your aging self”—is fundamental for an ethics of aging. Kantian, utilitarian, and eudaemonist theories assume an ageless, rational, active individual. Frail old age, however, comes with dependency and decay. An ethics of aging therefore needs to be relational and must account for the fear of aging. The elderly remind us that death is inescapable; the body, fallible; and self-esteem, transitory. The love command offers a relational ethics that overcomes the fear of aging and enables us to see that love for our aging self makes good elderly care possible.