TODAY -

The International Day Of The Aged, 2022

S K Singh *



On December 14, 1990, the UN General Assembly designated October 1 as the International day of the Older Persons. As global population ages, it's important to remember that 'not everyone is young anymore'. This day is a reminder for all of us to respect the rights and needs of older people and to work together to make sure they have a quality life even when they are in the autumn of their lives.

These are precepts however; kind of a working principle and people take them with the least concern. These are desirables but not binding on us. The thoughts of being benevolent to others particularly the aged is fast waning up often leading to neglect of and indifference to the aged. Theoretically, the saying goes that older persons are blessed with more wisdom, experience, gratitude, love and strength.

Practically these are hardly recognized. The UN thus, thought it proper to have a day dedicated to the aged to remind the people of having such a uniform day the world over to foster common bondage to the elders.

It is a day uniformly dedicated to these elderly persons to hold their hands, share some light moments and try enticing them to enjoy in their sunset years. It's also to create a society that provides a safe habitat for all age groups to co-exist and live in harmony with each other. The motto enshrines in it to encourage spending time with elders, caring for them and understanding their needs and concerns.

Over the years, the UN thought it wise to develop a 'theme' for the particular year to have a common platform where these elders are taken care of, at least on this day. It is aimed at having a uniform approach, a motto to focus on, some institutional support where through they are provided some assistance, some assistances which they badly are in need of.

Imagine the glee, the glaze on their faces when they are reciprocated with something they had been missing all through as they age fast with their near and dear ones not seen around. The UN had so carefully arrived at a set of 'themes' varying for each year, each trying to understand and appreciate the plight of the aged, as they advance.

This year, 2022, the overall umbrella theme is "The Resilience of Older Persons in a changing World". For the years 2023, 2024 etc too different themes had been identified and finalized by the UN for the common good, approach and execution. " Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It's about flexibility, adaptability often bordering with some element of toughness.

Here in the 'theme for 2022', it touches upon the toughness of old persons, their adaptability to varying situations and the like qualities which they had acquired. This theme is a call for action and opportunity living with the elders, tap these traces of stubbornness and elements of perseverance of which they are the champions.

The broad objectives are framed as follows:-
i) Highlight the resilience of women in the face of environmental, social and economic and lifelong inequalities,
ii) Raise awareness of importance of improved world-wide data collection disaggregated by age and gender,
iii) Include older women in the centre of all policies, ensuring gender equity as described in the Secretary General's Report.

Attractive 'Motto' or 'Theme' or any form of approach to ease elderly woes remains incomplete. Plainly speaking, elderly woes are an offshoot of modernity. Like in the old days where sons and daughter-in-laws were around at home, when household needs were limited, the olds were taken care of rather spontaneously.

With the dawn of progressive life style, modernistic approach in society, the elders have to rest satisfied with a life style where they have to get confined all alone.

The several institutional packages for their welfare, the government throws open are not executed effectively. These institutional mechanisms are not activated to the desired levels for some reasons.

For instance, the 'reverse mortgage system' empowering the elderly owing some property to mortgage the same from financial institutions is certainly well conceived. The worry is that can this be executed without the wrath of the sons who need to be placed in humor, at a time when their pleasure too counts a lot.

The setting up of two National Institutes of Ageing, eight Regional Institutes, separate Department of Geriatric Health Care in one Medical College/Hospital in each state were considered indeed very positive steps of the government. But recall that these grand policy statements are now at least fifteen years old.

Do we see any such geriatric health care centers in our state? I for one closely associated with the care of around twenty (around because the numbers fluctuate, some passed away, some reconciled with their families), could not get any such medical support for the inmates in our Old Age Home, run by All Manipur Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Mongsangei, Imphal West.

We do take care of the health of these inmates in private hospitals, like, Raj Medicity, Advanced Hospital etc. And of course some private practitioners come to our help largely through our sincere approach and their benevolence.

Our experience with government Medical Colleges is not worth the effort and we avoid repeating it. How do then these elders sustain their health as they grow older with hardly anyone at their side?

International Days of the Aged need to deliberate on these issues to rather than resting content with long bhasans from VVIPs and rich tributes to their contribution to the society.


* S K Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on October 06 2022.



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