In the preceding, we’ve sought to make aging more acceptable for those caught up in the current fascination with ageism. The cure for ageism isn’t a movement or a change in vocabulary.
The cure for ageism is a change in our reality and in our imaginings — those fantasies younger folks have about how they will feel or be perceived when they are 86 as I am. Or even just 64. Young Paul McCartney at 24 considered what his father had become at 64. He worried about what he himself might become when he reached that same age. Paul McCartney has long since passed 64. He is now 80.
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
Don’t Fear Old Age.
If you fear the ageism to which you imagine you may be subject when you are 64, you can take comfort that time has taught Paul McCartney and all of us that we need not fear. Paul McCartney is still needed and still loved at 80 as he was in 1966 when he penned those lyrics. He was then in his early twenties, and I was thirty.
McCartney doesn’t seem to be concerned with ageism, and perhaps no one should be. It’s just too negative. In an interview with David Remnick published in the New Yorker, McCartney said simply, “I plan to continue living. That’s the central idea.” The cure for those who obsess about ageism is that simple. Just continue living. Get over anger and anxiety to embrace the joy of living.
Ageism is in the eye of the ageists. Most of us who are old are enjoying who we are now as much as we did in our youth. Some of us are wealthy and prosperous. Others are poor and struggling. That was true in 1966, when we were 30, and it’s still true today at age 86.
There’s joy in every age but the freedom that comes with great age is much to be valued. Just imagine this. If I am innocently accused of a crime I didn’t commit, at my age, the most I have to face is the possibility of lifetime state-funded long-term care. That’s not bad.
There’s joy in aging.