Letters & Opinion

The Elderly and Family Life

By Deacon Peter Fevrier(Family & Life Secretariat)

RESOLUTION 45/106, passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 14th 1990, declared October 1st to be the International Day of Older Persons. This day was considered a special one for older persons and senior citizens around the world. In most developed countries, it is generally acceptable for political leaders and caregivers alike, including social groups, to address matters regarding the elderly around this day. Social media in addition may take the opportunity to publish extracts and interviews relating to concerns of the elderly. It is very important for us to recognise and honour older persons who have contributed to the development of the nation, including those who have had an impact on society, schools, health care public institutions and the like well beyond this observation.

The elderly is generally classified as: individuals who have attained the mature age of 65 years and above. In some countries it is referred to as old age meaning: nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of the human beings and is thus the end of the human life cycle.

Experts on the subject tell us that the size and age composition of a population are determined jointly by three demographic processes: fertility, mortality and migration. Some of the same authorities on this subject conclude that all regions have experienced substantial increases in life expectancy since 1950. As the life expectancy at birth increases, improvements in survival at older ages account for a growing proportion of the overall improvement in longevity of life. While declining fertility and increasing longevity are the key drivers of population ageing globally, international migration has also contributed to changing population age structures in some countries and regions.

According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2019 Revision, by 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%). By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over. In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 years or above outnumbered children under five years of age globally. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.

Social Scientists believe that population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as housing, transportation, health and medi-care, social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.

Older persons are increasingly seen as contributors to development, whose abilities to act for the betterment of themselves and their societies should be woven into policies and programmes at all levels. In the coming decades many countries are likely to face fiscal and political pressures in relation to public systems of health care, pensions and social protections for a growing older population.

In Family and Life an older person means: a grandmother, an aunt, a mother, a sister, a mentor, a school principal, a politician, a father, a grandfather or an uncle. At some levels it becomes a personal thing. Most times it gets a lot more personal than it appears.

One of the most serious issues for caregivers regards the elderly is abuse. Abuse of elders takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the elderly, neglect and financial manipulation or extortion.

One of the most common forms of abuse is physical abuse. This is best described as the non-accidental use of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment. Such abuse can also include assaults such as hitting, shoving and even practices such as the inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, or confinement.

Emotional elder abuse is also a major concern. This means the treatment of an older person in ways that cause emotional or psychological pain or distress, including intimidation through yelling or threats, humiliation and ridicule, habitual blaming, ignoring the elderly person, isolating an elder from friends or activities, terrorizing or menacing the elderly person.

Family care, love and support is important for the overall welfare of the elderly. Research has shown that elders who are more socially involved with family members are more likely to live longer than those who remain isolated. This is even true for those who are experiencing late stages of dementia. Seniors who are close to their families also have been reported to have better mental health than those who are not. Interacting with their family and being reminded that they are cared about reduces feelings of depression. Older people who are more socially engaged typically have a higher level of cognitive function. Those who report being happy and who engage in social activities are more likely to have an increase in their memory and thinking skills. Those who indicate the opposite typically experience a decline in their cognitive abilities.

In conclusion let us meditate on Holy Scripture and what it teaches on the subject of how we and the community at large should relate to the aged or elderly in our communities.

Titus 2:2: “Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.”

Titus 2:3-5: “In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.”

Leviticus 19:32: “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

Proverbs 20:29: “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honour of old men is their gray hair.”

Job 12:12. “Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding.”

Proverbs 16:31: “A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.”
God Bless You!

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