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Diahanne Rhiney's picture
Diahanne Rhiney
A privilege to grow old gracefully

WITH PEOPLE living longer and treatments improving, the anti-ageing industry has now become a lucrative business. The quest for eternal youth has clearly spread beyond Hollywood and some would argue is now an unhealthy obsession.

For as long as men and women have suffered the ravages of time, they have desperately searched for ways to escape them. The appearance of wrinkles, sagging skin and grey hairs has throughout history made ordinary people obsessed with finding a mythical 'fountain of youth'.

In the past few years, doctors have become increasingly successful in developing drugs and techniques that actually do turn back the signs of ageing, and can routinely make people look years younger. Furthermore, male surgery has also taken off. Before it was isolated men with personality problems, but more men are getting divorced in middle age and want to look young again to find another partner.

Botox has now become dated; a person’s own fat can now be transferred to various parts of the body, creams, lasers and collagen all help to iron out wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin.

Additionally, plastic surgery is no longer taboo as people are more open to discussing what ‘they’ve had done’. But is there an element of addiction? The more a person engages in chasing eternal youth, the more they have to do it, and it feeds on itself. The inability to face ageing, and constantly trying to restore the difference between how one looks and how they feel they should look can lead to the development of psychological issues.

Constantly trying to turn back the clock can also be very damaging for people who have it done for the wrong reason. For example, someone who also suffers a life crisis and gets depressed may see surgery as the solution. However, surgery will not change their lives and they then become more depressed. On the other hand, you can have a good result, but it still makes you worse.

There are some cultures in which the elderly are revered for their experience and wisdom, but in recent times, society now values youth and denigrates age. In this culture, the greatest compliment one can pay an older person is to tell them they seem or look younger than they are.

There is no doubt that being young is fast, fun, and exciting. But there is also a time and a season for all things. Trying to hang onto the fast lane too long deprives us of the self-understanding and deep thoughts that usually accompany growing older. Fear or denial of aging and living in a youth obsessed culture can rob our lives of purpose and meaning. Likewise, the fear of aging can also be linked to the fear and denial of death.

This denial and rejection of wisdom gained through aging has caused some to live life in a permanent state of middle age. This negative view of aging in reinforced throughout media. Articles and advertising rarely show mature models or grey haired female presenters and what we see on television and hear in everyday life, we develop negative stereotypes about aging.

Surely, growing old should seen as a privilege rather than something to dread. Studies have shown that people were happiest in youth and then again in their 70s and early 80s compared to being least happy during middle age. Additionally, levels of happiness increased between the ages of 65 and 85 and beyond.

Some experts believe this is because older people are more able to draw on social and emotional instincts they've built with experience. Perhaps the wisdom of aging should be more recognised, rather than our obsession with the youth culture.

Growing old gracefully enables us to be more aware of self and new capacities as we develop while aging, allowing us to become more authentic.

Follow Diahanne on Twitter: @diahanneuk and www.diahannerhiney.com

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