Who is in the last stage of life?

“One thing you can’t experience is that feeling of being in the last stage of life”

I have received several comments like this one related to my project. At first I really agreed with these comments, and chalked it up as just one of the elements that will prevent my time in a senior living community from being truly authentic.

As I thought about it more, I came to the realization that none of us really know when the end of our life will be. I have lost several people in my life before they reached what most would define as “old age”.

Imagine what its like to live in a place where so many people view it as a neighborhood for people at the end of their life. What if people drove by your home said that the person that lives in that home is nearing the end of their life? How would that make you feel about your home and about your purpose? I think this might be one aspect that speaks to the stigma of senior housing I reflected on in an earlier post.

If it is true that people in senior housing communities are at the end of their lives, shouldn’t more of us be visiting these communities to hear and record the history that might soon be gone?

It really makes me feel fortunate to have stumbled into a career where I have had the opportunity to meet and interview hundreds of elders. I don’t think I realized how much of a privilege that has been until now. I know I wouldn’t have met all those people if it wasn’t part of my job. We need to come up with creative ways to get more people into these “communities” voluntarily to experience the wisdom of the residents first hand.

Everyone is aging and everyone is in the last stage of life.

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