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Friday, July 1, 2022

Is old age an illness? Costa Rica said no

What does official terminology have to do with love?

Not much, usually. But every once in a while—afloat on seas of paperwork, adrift in endless meetings and Zooms, impaled by beams of fluorescent light—people get a chance to raise a hand for what they think is true. 

On a list of illnesses, world authorities included “old age.” Costa Rica raised a hand and disagreed. In the end, the paperworkers, the Zoomers, the fluorescently lit, all agreed. 

Why did it matter?

Because keeping old age off a list of illnesses is about more than language. It’s about parents and grandparents and great-aunts and uncles and anyone old: entrepreneurs, photographers, teachers, activists, comedians, tradition-keepers, leaders, innovators.

It’s about more than language. It’s about us. Us with our white hairs multiplying like sly silver rabbits, with our wrinkles deepening every time we laugh. Us, crinkling our foreheads at ourselves in the mirror.

Us, making our way through our lives afflicted by noise, by lack of vision and memory, by short attention spans, by lack of wisdom. 

Old age is not a sickness. For so many of our ills, it is the cure.

Inspired by Costa Rica’s stance at the head of a group of countries that opposed the inclusion of “old age” on a list of diseases by the World Health Organization.  Our weekly Media Naranja column tells short love stories with a Costa Rican twist. During our January edition, we’re focusing on love for grandparents.

Katherine Stanley Obando
Katherine Stanley Obando
Katherine (Co-Fundadora y Editora) es periodista, editora y autora con 16 años de vivir en Costa Rica. Es también la co-fundadora de JumpStart Costa Rica y Costa Rica Corps, y autora de "Love in Translation." Katherine (Co-Founder and Editor) is a journalist, editor and author living in Costa Rica for the past 16 years. She is also the co-founder of JumpStart Costa Rica and Costa Rica Corps, and author of "Love in Translation."

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