Back before the internet and modern digital age, it was understandable. Old people could pass down tips of wisdom and general life lessons they amassed over their long lives. Everything from basic knowledge (such as apple seeds being poisonous) to insight into the local community (such as the best way to prepare dishes, good local restaurants, etc).
But now with everything so widely available online and in our pockets in an instant, is there really a need? In fact, one can argue it's become more of a burden than an asset.
Consider the average wage-earning American family, living paycheck to paycheck. Grandma Beatrice is 90 years old, while her 3 grandkids are burdened with student loans, and the family is struggling to meet mortgage payments. One day, granny suffers from a stroke, and the cost to prolong her life (acute stent operation, post-procedure recovery, nursing home, etc etc) is estimated at $250k. The doctor estimates that she could live for another 2 years in a best-case scenario.
Is the marginal extension of life (living until 92 instead of meeting the reaper at 90) really worth the cost? Arguably, the money would be much better spent on younger people who have decades ahead of them.
I come from a family of doctors, and the stories I hear at the dinner table are really troubling. You'd be surprised at how much money is poured into saving the very old, just to live for an extra few years (sometimes months, and sometimes weeks). Economically, it does not make sense for the average family. Sentimentally, it is hard to justify. If I was 90 and in Beatrice's position, I'd gladly (and voluntarily) give the money to my grandkids and end my life. To do anything otherwise is irresponsible and downright selfish. If not for their immediately family, but for society as a whole through higher insurance premiums.