‘Ageing is a disease, disease is suffering, and suffering should be minimized.’ Old age as an equivalent of suffering to be eliminated, is a well-known scheme of thought in contemporary culture. This ‘suffering from old age’ argument, however, as is argued in the first section of this article, obscures and denies the reality and complexity of the human condition and the place of suffering in it. Old age is to be understood as the radicalization and intensification of the human condition. Suffering in old age, as argued in the second part, can therefore best be conceived in terms of existential threats to the integrity of the self. It entails the embodied experience of the broken dialogue between the self and the world, often perceived as a lack of control and as loss. Suffering, perceived in this way, seems to be permanent to the human condition. It induces the search for meaning. In the context of unavoidable suffering, a ‘presence approach’, instead of an interventionist attitude, is required.
- Existential Themes