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How do Americans depict aging?

How do we in America depict aging?

The cantankerous and feisty senior citizen people of a certain age remember as Granny in the Beverly Hillbillies?

The blue-haired little woman whose head can barely been seen over the dashboard, weaving dangerously in and out of traffic?

The old codger who has fallen and can't get up?

Or worse? The lonely and senile denizens of corrupt nursing homes, like the one where Abe Simpson lives in the longest running animated sitcom of all time?

We might think of this as a modern affliction of a youth-obsessed culture fueled by a multi-media barrage of constant worship of taut nobility. But this is hardly a new phenomenon.

Seneca, the Roman philosopher, waxed about aging as a disease. And some of his contemporaries, like Virgil and the aptly named Juvenal, went further, mocking the aged.

They did not know it at the time, but those (now ancient) pontificators were not helping any Roman lucky enough to gain senior citizen status. Negative portrayals of old age, we now know, contribute to the problems of aging.

Conversely, in cultures like the Tarahumaras of Mexico, where people think that one gains power as one ages, people in their 60s can run hundreds of miles playing a super marathon version of kickball.

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