Caring for the Elderly: Valuing Them and Their Role in Society
Every individual has their own role and position in the society in which we live. It is easy to link role and position to an individual’s level of productivity. However, I do believe that we need to move beyond these restrictive ideologies and ways of looking at people and their relevance in our lives.
A population that has been getting marginalized over the years is the elderly population within our societies. Since time immemorial, the elderly held a very strong position in the Indian society and community. They were the heads of the tribe, the people who the young would turn to for guidance and advice and who would be relied upon for any sort of significant decision making as well.
Changes in the Roles of the Elderly
Undoubtedly this has now changed. There is an undeniable shrinking of the role that the older population now plays in the lives of the younger individuals. From holding a position of authority, they either care for the grandchildren or need to be taken care of. They look towards determining alternate mediums of keeping themselves engaged and busy through avenues of social work and other such things to ensure their time is well-utilized. But to a large extent, and more so in the more urban developed areas, they find themselves not as engaged with the younger generation.
The Need to Value the Elderly
There is no doubt that the elderly play a very prominent role in shaping the culture of a society and it is through them information is transmitted to the younger populations. It is they who aid in the retention of value systems and the role they play in the lives of grandchildren is extremely important.
Creating systems which support the elderly within our communities and which allow for greater respect and value being accorded to the role they play is a need of the hour. The wealth of knowledge they possess and the enriching experiences that they can call forth cannot be replicated by any other source.
It is the elderly who allow for the continuity of knowledge and values and their position within society is irreplaceable.