Being Elderly And Dependent
Loss of independence in the elderly and dependency on others is a societal challenge, especially now with major demographic changes reflecting an increase in longevity, due to progress in technology and health care. Being prepared socially, medically and financially for this phase of life and understanding the limitations of living longer with restrictions in mobility, loss of hearing, eyesight, mental alacrity, etc. is but one aspect, not withstanding that every individual may not experience al these and there are always exceptions to the rule!
Losing A Spouse
Lack of socialization is the main cause of mental illness and physical decline in older adults, leading to dependency for various tasks, including the simple activities of daily living. Losing a spouse is very hard on the elderly and the dread of isolation looms large, Women seem to handle the loss of a spouse better than men, as they are adept at multi-tasking and are therefore able to engage themselves in numerous activities and handle grief. However, men often die within a few months of losing their partner. Losing a spouse is like losing a caregiver who loves them the most, both emotionally and physically. And usually, men are not prepared for this kind of a situation.
Coordinated Efforts By Caregivers
With the loss of independence comes the desire to stay at home as long as possible. The unsuitability of institutional care and the lack of preparedness for it in our culture is a major cause for concern. The societal change and accompanying consequences needed to be handled like recruiting and retaining caregivers, cost of financing these services and quality control, requires a concerted coordinated effort and responsiveness by all key players in many areas like preventive care, facilitation of socialization, minimization and prevention of emergency hospital visits and so on.
Elders Can Be Assets
Considering elders as societal assets, mobilizing their skills, experience and wisdom will not only create intergenerational bonds but it will also strengthen sustainable neighbourhood ties. It is here that our not profit organizations and community recreation centres play a crucial role in carving a niche for the elderly, such that social isolation is minimized and such that older adults who are being stereotyped as dependent on others is proved to be wrong!