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Teaching Young Ones about Elderly Care

By Shelina Bhamani and Laila Akber Cassum

Care must be embedded into the very fabric of human interaction and the children and the youth should be inspired to engage and interact with the elderly for the emotional and spiritual harmony it can bring.

Old age is a natural and inevitable phenomenon of life but is challenging and complex for those who belong to the developing countries as these frail elderly’s are retired but never tired.

The literatiure affirms that the ageing of the population is a significant paradigm shift witnessed globally.

The Global Day of Elderly is celebrated across globe on 1st October every year. We would like to advocate on this day on engaging our young ones to support elderly in our society.

United Nations estimates that globally, 60 year and above population will double to 16% by 2050 [1] with 80% of elders being from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by 2050. In Pakistan, seniors comprise over 6% of the population, reflects the fastest growing grouping and quite alarming, with Asia as the largest continent comprising of substantial number of older adults in the age group of 60 years and above. Pakistan is and will be facing a demanding challenge of managing the elderly population currently and in the years to come. Pakistan being a Soth East Asian country, where socio – cultural values, traditions, family bonding grounded in extended family system is given great admiration.

The omnipresence of old age in societies is a challenge for government, policy-makers, health care and academia. Aging can be a very vulnerable time. Declining health, retirement and social exclusion affect the lives of the elderly and their families, affecting quality of life and relationships. Maintaining good health and a good routine becomes even more important for older people to remain confident and self-sufficient in order to lead a satisfying life. It is important to take care of older people. The type of care required for seniors may vary and there is a wide range of care regimens ranging from complete physical dependence to the need for emotional attachment and attention. Cultural and societal values affect the quality of interaction between individuals.

The circle of life – beginning from infancy and progressing into childhood and culminating in old age – are inspiring and stimulating life experiences – for the one who goes through these stages and for those who witness them. Values, attitudes and characteristics are strongly influenced during childhood. Educating children about valuing and caring for seniors is a promising priority for a united and modern society that will lead everyone into the future. Parents should have meaningful conversations with their children and conduct themselves in a respectful and caring manner toward seniors. There are many stories and instances in which children and youth find meaningful interactions and influences that impact the lives of seniors. In addition, a grandparent or elderly family members appear to be more interested in the activities of young people and adolescents. Schools and community institutions should increasingly engage older people. School events, such as reading events and Grandparents’ Day, can be special moments that connect the elderly and children. Special events should also be planned to mobilize older people and mass communication campaigns should educate people about how to respond and take care of older people.

As health care professionals and educationist, we need to collectively work as a change agent to transform how we think, feel and act towards age and aging. The govt and policy makers need to execute the bills and acts that have been passed by the government. Also, capitalize on our school gong children from kindergarten and above and inculcate the seeds of sociocultural values and beliefs can be planted and foster to demonstrate love, empathy and respect allowing them to live and enjoy healthy, dignified and secured life.

Both the authors are working at the Aga Khan University. They have also authored a book for young children on elderly care which can be accessed through their official social media pages

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