The elderly aren’t merely a vote bank

Surjit Singh Flora

Today, science has progressed to a great extent, and due to the treatment of diseases and the way of life of humans, their life span has increased compared to before. But there has been a lot of change in our relationships, love, and coexistence. Where the elderly used to be the pride of the house, now their inquiries have dwindled to the point where they are relegated to nursing homes or old-age homes. Where they spend their lives talking to walls alone.
So now the time has come that we have to protect the dignity of the elderly and their basic rights so that they can live a dignified life. Governments have to realize that the elderly are not just a vote bank but human beings. We should try to restore democratic values even within families to the extent possible, and a comprehensive cultural campaign will be launched against the existing inhumane, decadent, amoral, and outdated capitalist culture. We have to build a socialist society in which the interests of the individual do not conflict with those of society, but both complement each other, so that lost human dignity can be restored. Only by being a part of this fight can we give the elders their due dignity in the future.
Respecting elders means respecting someone who has faced more ups and downs in life than you and struggled more than you. Respecting the elderly means respecting the fact that human life is difficult, even for those who are privileged.
Senior citizens face discrimination everywhere. They are considered illiterate mainly because most of them lack the skills to participate in the world of technology. This is mostly done by the new generation, who walk around with today’s technology in their pockets and consider themselves highly skilled and well-educated.
But rather empathize with them by putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their feelings and challenges. Be sure to show empathy, provide support and reassurance when needed, and treat them with kindness and compassion, maintaining a gentle and caring demeanor. When assisting with daily activities or personal care, their dignity should be prioritized. During these intimate moments, they should be treated with sensitivity and respect rather than adopting a huggable attitude.
Engaging in conversations with older individuals can provide us with valuable opportunities to broaden our perspectives beyond our habitual thoughts and patterns. Engaging in conversation and listening to their experiences and opinions provides a unique perspective. Could you envision the experiences of adolescents during the 1940s who bravely embarked on a military campaign alongside their comrades, confronting a formidable malevolent leader situated thousands of miles overseas? How significantly have various aspects changed within the span of 80 years?
So, we should respect the elderly for their wisdom and wealth of experience, and instead of alienating and demoralizing them, we should offer them self-expression as contributing members of society. Ways must be found.
Sometimes the question arises, who should take care of the elderly? The answer is very simple: who took care of you when you were a child, and who made you capable for the future? Who will take care of you now that you are old and/or unable to take care of yourself? While your parents also had the option of raising you in crèches or maids, they didn’t.
Even if we put all that aside, we need a world full of compassion, kindness, and love. We need a world where the elderly do not move around but live a dignified life. Many times, I have been to nursing homes, and I often see the tears of these helpless elders. When no one came to visit them, I used to comfort them. I have also seen those who did not take care of their elderly parents but did not even come to collect their dead bodies until the last moment. Those who came to the nursing home only came to get their death certificates so that they could get the property left behind by their parents in their name.
In many cultures around the world, children still help to care for their elderly parents to some extent, but this expectation is much less common in modern and especially Western cultures. Some immigrants who cared for their elderly parents in their youth are now surprised to find that their children are not willing to do much for them. 60% of the elderly living in families experience abuse.
This abuse comes in many forms. These elders have to spend their lives like prisoners in homes, facing mental abuse, verbal abuse, beatings, and other physical abuse. Cases of robbery involving elderly people living alone in their homes are common. In our daily life, we keep hearing around us or in newspapers and TV news, how they are imprisoned in houses and made to do daily chores like prisoners, thrown out of the house if they refuse. Threats are made, and they are left in old-age homes. Therefore, we can say that most of the elderly are forced to live in inhumane conditions; that is, this part of the population is completely socially insecure, or let’s say that our current society has been unable to provide them with protection.
There is an old Russian folk tale in which a husband-and-wife fight over the inconvenience of having their elderly father live with them. Finally, the man gives in to his wife’s protest and agrees to send his father to a nursing home. He tells his young son. “Here, wrap your grandfather in a blanket to protect him from the cold and take him to the poor house.” “As you wish, father,” says the son of the curmudgeon. Then he starts cutting the blanket in half. “What are you doing?” shouts the father. And the son replies, “I am saving half a blanket to cover you when the day comes when my wife asks me to leave you.” Everyone must have gotten the answer. What you sow, you will reap in the end.
(The author is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton).

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