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The Mortality Club

It's a Shame

Shame afflicts far too many older people. What is shame? Humiliation and embarrassment are two of the synonyms that come to mind. When we feel ashamed, we begin to think that we are unworthy—unworthy of love, of respect or even of sympathy. Doubting our own worthiness, we begin to lose confidence in ourselves. Our self esteem decreases. We feel unempowered, vulnerable and exposed. A vicious cycle ensues. We start to behave like victims, thereby inviting disdain, disrespect or abuse at the hands of people who prey on the weak.

Why is shame an affliction of the old? Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons; so many in fact, that it’s surprising some of us manage to escape the affliction. In a culture that prizes youth, we can feel ashamed of having a body that is deteriorating and can no longer perform as well as it once did. In a society that applauds the strong and independent, we can feel ashamed of needing the help of others. We tough it out, pretending that everything is under control when, indeed, it is not. We can feel ashamed of getting sick, and even of dying.  Read More 
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Money Matters

Money creates choices and maintains options. In doing so, it enables elderly people to be masters of their own destinies. Elderly people without money or assets can have a terrible time.

Think about Shakespeare’s King Lear. Lear decided to dispose of his estate while he was still alive. He assumed that the recipients of his wealth would be grateful and therefore eager to care for him until he died. He decided to gift each of his three daughters a proportion of the estate commensurate with her love for him. He failed to understand that his daughter Cordelia was expressing deep affection when she said, “I love you more than salt.” Insulted by the comparison, he gave all of his assets to the two daughters who played most effectively to his aging ego. Read More 
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