First of all I think the question, phrased like this, assumes and generalizes. Yes, some old people are not afraid of dying, but some are just as afraid. Life is precious, and you'd be surprised to know just how deep the human urge for self preservation goes. In fact according to some researches it is equal only to sexual desires, which itself aims at a sort of preservation, the preservation of one's species. Which follows that by preserving your specie you preserve a part of yourself in them. Which brings me to the first point in answering your amazing question.
For those old people who aren't mortified by death, what exactly drives their confidence in the face of death?
1. MAKING PEACE WITH MORTALITY
We all know life is short and no one lives forever. That is the beauty of life. In fact, according to Toni Morrisson, that IS the meaning of life. From childhood we've learnt about this. We've had our whole lives to prepare for it.
Life has its viccisitudes. At a point life's great and everything's rainbows and unicorns, then it isn't. All the ups and downs are there to teach us just how feeble life is. We make friends, we lose friends. We make enemies, we lose enemies. We lose familiy members and loved ones and in the end at one point or another you start to contemplate your own mortality.
It might seem distasteful at first. You might rage against it, like Dylan Thomas said in his poem, but in the end you start to make peace with it. You start to content yourself with thoughts of enjoying the moments. And when you grow old you can look back on those moments you've had and be thankful for them.
Second, as i mentioned in the introduction, is preservation. As a kid, self preservation is paramount. As we grow old however and start to contemplate our mortality; start to wonder what will become of us in the future years to come, we start to think of ways by which we can preserve our legacies. First among them, like I said, is through our sexual urges; subliminating this into the preservation of the specie via our offsprings.
Much joy can be derived from this at old age, where you feel satisfied by the fact that you have preserved a copy or copies of you on earth to carry on your legacies.
Another way of posthumous preservation might be through deeds. Deeds of great men are honored and remembered. We still talk about and study men who lived thousand years ago. A man or woman who has done deeds s/he feels proud of also tend to feel less fear at the thought of death.
Various religions have different beliefs for what haopens after death. That is in fact the basis for most religion. A man or woman who feels his or her life has been lived according to the spiritual tenets of his religion might feel less afraid at the thought of death.
S/he would feel that since their lives on earth had been spent judiciously and piously, there is nothing to fear in the afterlife.
It should be worth noting that some religions don't believe in the afterlife and for these the consequence is neutral..
Pleasure palls. Life becomes boring. It is true that at the point where you seem to no longer be capable of having a thing you start to value that thing the more, and that is why most of people at their death beds pray for a second chance.
But also most people who have gotten old stay content with the fact that THEY have lived. Death would seem easier for those who have lived and loved to the fullest. Which is why we are always being admonished to not live our lives not for anybody but ourselves, life's too short. YOLO.
By mortification I mean genuine mortification/disattachment of the body--which some people do in fact attain. These "mystics" have attained a complete disjunction from eartly things; pleasures, pain, thrills, anything that may have caused them to feverishly cling to life
To them life, the body, isn't the absolute, but the soul. And it is in the preservation of one's soul that true bliss lies. And that can still be achieved even in death.
So there you have it; depending on your beliefs and dispositions, these are ways by which you can assure you're not afraid when the time comes. Cheers.
Also I'll reccomend reading Ursula le Guinn's take on growing old happily here: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/21/ursula-le-guin-dogs-cats-dancers-beauty/
Whether an old person is afraid of dying probably varies from person to person. But I think you're onto something. Most old folks do not seem to be very afraid of death.
I think that's the case because they have already lived a long time and had many experiences. With age, most people become less open to new things, new perspectives and new experiences. That's why I suspect the subjective sense of how fast time passes tends to speed up with age. If you're gradually losing your physical and mental faculties, your friends and loved one's are dying one by one, and, each passing year, the world keeps becoming ever more alien to you and different from what you're comfortable with, then I suppose you might slowly come to terms with the idea that not being around forever might actually be a good thing. I used to be excited about life extension when I was young. I'm middle aged now and I find myself having lost interest in it entirely.
I don't think are that afraid of dying. Most of have lived full lives themselves and have lost loved ones along the way. Their health may be failing or their minds might be going. They might miss their deceased spouse or they might just be in so much pain they are wishing it to end.
I think young people are much more afraid of dying than the elderly.
This took some thinking about as I asked my grandparents that when they were still alive.
They told me that they don't want to die but as you grow older there is one thing certain in life and that is death, you get tired and start to think about things differently, they said as long as there families are well and they know they are safe they could die happy.
i think this is a strange thing to say as why would anyone want to die? but to die happy that to me is a little crazy. but hay, we will all find out that answer when we get to that point in life won't we. :D
After living for so much time, losing your friends, family and others to old age and disease, people start to long for an end... at least thats what my grandma told me, whats the point of being alive past 80 when most of your friends are death and you can barely recognize the world at that point?
I once had a grandmum who will always wake up every morning angry that she didn't die in her sleep. I always wondered why someone would want to die. Sometimes she asks us to help kill her that she really wants to die. She was very old and frail. She later died at 104 years old.
I discovered that people tend to come to terms with death as they age. They have seen it all. Nothing amazes them anymore. They see at least two people they know die every year, they are tormented with old age sickness and have to go through excruciating pain. They have their children go away start a family and they are all alone with no one to care for them and sometimes sent to a nursing school where they only get perhaps weekly or monthly visits. The pleasures of this world do not entice them anymore. They become very dependant on others to do simple activities like walk, eat, pee etc and if they think back to the younger years, all they want is to just end it all.
Because they already had done so much in their life. They had achieved what they want to achieve. They had lived their life the way they wanted to be. They had contentment of the things that happened, and most importantly they had accepted that the last stage of life is dying.
Old people are not perplexed of kicking the bucket". This announcement is to a greater extent a talk than truth. As a matter of fact, as a rule when individuals develop old past 70 years they tend to consider more demise and after-life as opposed to their particular lives within reach. They turn out to be more prudent in their words and activities. They additionally hindsight and introspect a great deal. And the majority of this is quite typical and common human brain research and conduct.
It is especially like those last 5– 10 minutes of one's composed examination where in one ensure that he/she has endeavored all the known inquiries, ticked all the correct alternatives and tricky attempt to assess the scores/denotes that he/she may get in that specific exam.
Obviously, there are numerous exemptions to this theory. Since, there are numerous old/elderly individuals who decline to develop old in light of the fact that as per them one doesn't develop old however one winds up old when one quits developing/advancing. Such individuals are endlessly youth and will never be old. Credit to such individuals and their considerations.
I am truly damn beyond any doubt that I too would do a similar thing on the off chance that I achieve that phase throughout everyday life.
This is just my understanding/speculation from my unassuming life study and encounter and not the slightest bit an offense to any elderly individual/