Old Age

My definition of health would be to function normally, feel good,  and to be free of disease. This definition comes from my personal experience and how I see a healthy individual. Healthy people are able to live their lives without any complications or limiting factors, and feel good while doing it. My definition of illness is a deviation away from a healthy state, or not being able to function normally. This definition also comes from my personal experience and how I view those who are ill- or those who are not healthy.

I had trouble deciding if old age should be considered an illness because as we get older our health tends to worsen. This occurs as a natural part of life and doesn’t happen because we get sick or don’t take care of ourselves, it’s just a natural part of aging that is to be expected. However, once we reach old age we aren’t always able to function normally and often we lose control of our bodily functions. Also, we tend to lose our strength and energy and might not feel very good in our later years. Old age demonstrates characteristics that are associated with illness, but I don’t think that old age in necessarily an illness.

I also had a hard time deciding if shyness should be considered an illness. When someone is very shy it may keep them from functioning and interacting normally with others and can also lead to feeling of isolation or sadness. However, I don’t think that shyness itself is an actual illness. Being shy doesn’t necessarily mean that a person won’t be able to function normally, or keep them from being happy. Just like old age it demonstrates characteristics that are associated with illness, but I don’t think that it should be considered an illness in itself.

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  1. Ethan Gotz says:

    Hi amber,
    I agree with your discussion about old age, and how ‘old age’ itself cannot be classified as an illness, but how it often does contribute to other illnesses. I think that it is fascinating how different cultures treat and care for the elderly and how their social status changes. For example, east asian and mediterranean cultures place a high value on the elderly, mainly because the households extends beyond what we could consider an immediate family. Households in these cultures include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and etc. which is way beyond what most United States households contain. Thus, the elderly are perceived as the most wise and knowledgeable therefore great care is taken to ensure that the elderly stay healthy. The grandparent’s children and grandchildren are expected to take immediate care whenever needed and it would be “despicable not to take care of your elderly parents”. I think that there is a major difference in western society since we often live in households that are constricted to immediate family. Thus, it is not uncommon to see grandparents being taken care of in nursing homes or hospitals. Also, since it is expected that the elderly are going to be sick, we often prioritize infant care over elderly care, where in east asian and mediterranean cultures, elderly care if prioritized.

    Judy Linn. “Honor or Abandon: Societies’ Treatment of Elderly Intrigues Scholar”. Los Angelos: UCLA Today, 2007.

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