Elderly’s Role In Society
Old age is a phase everyone will go through, unless one dies young. This makes it imperative to dig deeper into what old age is all about. It is the period of lite after youth and middle age, closer to or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings over the ages. As body mechanisms react to the wear and tear of use, old age results in loss of regenerative abilities, susceptibility to disease and illness.
Assigning a firm chronological number to ‘old age’ is difficult due to cultural variances in life styles across the world. That number is more of a social construct rather than a biological stage of life. By and large, lifespans extending beyond 65 years is denoted in most developed nations as the age of retirement, the age of joining the ranks of ‘senior citizens,’ but then again this classification is questionable.
Thus the mystery of aging becomes a motivation for a younger person to understand ‘old age’ in simple ways, in order to get to know elderly people rather than marginalizing them. Old age no doubt, is a fragile part of life, but the elderly can have rich life experiences and history, which can serve as important life lessons for all generations.
These connections between generations usually begin at home inside the frameworks of the institution of family and still remain as one of the most important social bonds in most societies. But the definition of family is no longer restricted to blood relatives’ and conjugal ties, it has now evolved and exists in various forms such as single parent, same- sex couples, grandparent-grandchild etc. These relationships lead to an interesting analysis of intergenerational relationships and living arrangements of todays society.
“Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of the nation”
Striking similarities are found at either end of the full spectrum of our lite course, be it personal care, diet, activity, learning, the need for assurance, encouragement etc. Communities segregated by age, as in schools for the young, colleges for youth, work for young adults and retirement communities for the elderly, are missing out on the essence of life. These emotionless social structures are forgetting about the special emotional connections, bonds and learning experiences that result from multi generational interdependency.
Nurturing the older adults in society brings with it an understanding of the fragility of human life and values resulting in a better quality of life for all ages concerned. A popular story about Friendship Day’ is about how a 10-year-old boy approached his 80 plus neighbour with two friendship bands and very solemnly he tied one on the elder’s wrist and then extended his own wrist, for the elder to tie the second friendship band.
There is another story about how a family of three generations, grandmother, daughter and granddaughter- each an only child live together. The granddaughter takes care of the grandmother and mother (both victims of stroke) with love and care. It is heartwarming to see such instances of social bonding.
Coming Full Circle
What matters dearly is to live in the moment, summing up the past, present and the future across the continuum of lite. This then, is the very essence of life as opposed to it being a straight timeline, where one is stressed to meet deadlines and complete tasks’ Society values productivity, on-going activity, a constant ‘doing’ not ‘being,’ but living in the moment and savoring it is what the very old and young can work in achieving together.
Providing Opportunities For The Elderly
There is no dearth of opportunity n all walks of life for utilizing the life skills of the elderly, be it a child or an adult day care facility, nursery schools, creches, art and crafts, holiday resorts, workplaces or libraries. We limit these ideas only with our imaginations. By improving the standing of older adults in society and nurturing their talents and valuing their experience and wisdom through intergenerational connections, we could strive to achieve a community that gives importance to social values that encourage and bring forth a better quality of life for all ages.