I was having a really hard time coming up with something to write about this week. I have a lot of thoughts about death philosophically as a human. It is hard to decipher what is valid coherent thought and what is more emotionally rooted. This makes it hard to write about academically.
Geriatric depression has had a huge influence on my family and the way we deal with death collectively. Almost every single one of my grandparents had a level of severity that shortened their lifespan. I cannot express how deeply this influenced my view of death in traumatic ways. But I have had the ability to expand my view of what death and aging mean.
Specifically, when I talk about geriatric depression, I am talking about when elder people start openly lamenting, accepting, and accelerating their death when they are not terminally ill. I think a huge cause of geriatric depression in this generation of elderly people is their lack of understanding of their mental health. Another issue, I think, is also how generally ableist and ageist our society is. Disabled and elderly people are the most vulnerable people in society. We have emotionally and systematically neglected these groups for a long time in western society, and we need to change this.
If aging and disabilities were destigmatized and supported in our society, I believe geriatric depression would be less prevalent as we would be less terrified about what being disabled or elderly means. You can still live a normal, happy, full life if you are disabled or elderly. I believe we should enable this as systematically as possible. Changing our societal relationship with death means becoming more comfortable with the states before death, and understanding that being closer to death does not automatically mean you should resign yourself to wait in agony. Supporting people with cognitive and physical disabilities goes a long way for supporting aging, as when you age, you may develop these disabilities; this does not have to decrease the quality of your life. Our healthcare needs to become more encompassing in this aspect of our lives.