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How can we approach aging and death more gracefully?

i.e. What can we begin to do to create a culture that respects our "Elder" like in Tribal societies of the past and today where Death is just a another growth step in our lives?

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    Feb 5 2013: I wonder whether your two questions- the one posed as the main question and the one provided in your elaboration- are, in fact, the same.

    My favorite writer who explores beautiful approaches to aging and death is Rachel Naomi Remens, a medical doctor at UCSF. She works with people with terminal illness and in her writing shares the stories of many- how they chose to think about, and live, the end of their lives. In other words, she does not tell them how to do it, but shares some of the most inspiring approaches she has encountered in her practice. [She has some ideas also, rituals she prefers, but it is the variety in approach that I find interesting in her storytelling.]. These stories show that people have a lot of range for choice within the culture. These cases all come from Northern California, because that is where she has her practice.[Caveat: If you don't like any sort of spiritual flavor, you won't like her work]

    In terms of your second question, I don't know that it would be ideal to respect elders in the sense in which they may have been respected in some cultures. We should all respect each other and listen for the wisdom we may have. Elderly people may have some wisdom as well as some ideas that are not so wise. The same is true of people of every age.

    We should be listening for the gems anyone can contribute from their life learnings or experiences to date.
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    Feb 6 2013: Timely question for me, as I just spent a day with my mother in a rehab facility where most of the patients, including my mother, are elderly and near death.

    I thought to myself, everyone needs to see this. Instead of ignoring this part of life, we need to all be made aware of it, to see it in the raw. Only then can we begin to truly accept this reality, and perhaps work to improve it.