I get so tired of those polyannas who keep urging older people to have a good attitude and live an active lifestyle. You can’t be vibrant and active if you go blind in your later years or if you’re physically unable to get around. It’s not always about attitude. We need to have more autonomy to decide when it’s time to end a meaningless life. See the book
What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives
The author studied 90-plus woman who runs marathons, trying to decide what keeps her going. Despite the title, Olga’s success is based on idiosyncratic factors and has no lessons for the rest of us. She’s an outlier.
These posts shows that people have very different experiences and to draw conclusions based on limited experience. If you’ve known a vibrant 90-year-old who runs marathons and has a great attitude, you can conclude that it’s all a matter of attitude. If you meet someone who’s miserable and wants to die, you conclude that they’ve got a bad attitude. In fact, someone who’s enjoying life might have a positive attitude **because** she’s healthy and strong and capable of running those marathons; someone might seem to have a negative attitude when in fact there’s no cure for a debilitating, painful condition and/or because they lose everything that’s meaningful.
If you know someone in a “good” nursing home, who has the temperament to handle institutional living, and who has visitors who can come every day, you may not understand why someone else can’t tolerate a nursing home, when in fact the second may be a place with bad food, forced room-sharing, indifferent care and being tied to chair in front of a television all day.