Elders are assets not liabilities

Even if they are apparently unproductive they deserve respect and dignity
Representational Image
Representational ImageSource: Gaspard Delaruelle from Pixabay

15th June was celebrated as world Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The aim of this day was to highlight the issues facing elder population globally; and to sensitize the masses towards the rights of elderly population and their responsibility to protect them. But does elder abuse need only discussions and deliberations on this day or we need to something concrete to stop the menace . On whose shoulders this responsibility lies? Government, politicians, civil society, or NGOs? No, it is our collective responsibility. Every son/daughter has responsibility to care for his/her parents and to give them due regard and reverence. It is time to stop blaming daughters in law/sisters in law for elder abuse. When a son don’t respect his parents how can he expect his wife to respect them; when a son doesn’t behave modestly with his parents how can he expect his children to deal nicely with their grandparents. Elders are assets not liabilities. Even if elders don’t work or earn and are apparently unproductive they still deserve respect and dignity. They have their own importance .Their wisdom and life experience can help us in practical life. They connect the family and are the source of strength in difficult times. Elders if given opportunity for raising grandchildren can imbibe great social and moral values in them. But We are unfortunately living in times when elders are treated as parasites. They face discrimination and loneliness even at their own homes. They are not given a say in decision making related to important household affairs. Their views no longer hold value. Leave apart value, Many ailing old parents even long for healthcare as many dual earner couples have become so immersed in their own life that they have no time to take their parents to a doctor. They don’t have time to talk to them. Some even don’t prefer to live with their old parents. They hire a maid or a nurse for their care. There are many elders in Kashmir whose children work on higher posts overseas but they don’t turn to their parents. They get so busy in hustle and bustle of their life that they forget they had parents. Some high profile elders have great legacy but unfortunately die without a decent burial. Some have no one on their deathbed and they leave the world and their so called sons and daughters pay adieu to them via video calls.

There are so many elders who are abused and harassed by their sons, daughters-in law and grand children. Recently I watched a lecture. An Islamic scholar narrated a story of an old man whose son and daughter-in-law beat him with shoes. There is another lady whose son dragged her from home after death of her husband and she is now living with her daughter and son-in-law. Sometime back there was a viral video on social media showing an elder lady in ambulance whose daughter-in-law and grand daughter didn’t allowe her to enter home as she was covid positive. There are so many cases where elders were looted by their children and grandchildren. They forcibly get them sign the documents. There is no dearth of abused and abandoned elders who spend their days and nights crying and waiting for their death. They are betrayed by none other than their own children.

Many elders spend whole day in masjids or in communities talking with others as they are not respected by their children. They feel unwanted at their homes. Their sons or grandchildren feel pestered by their presence. This is the case with those who have family but just for name. Now if we talk of plight of destitute elder men or widows who have no one in this world, or are abandoned by their legal heirs, who beg during day and during night search for shelter in hospitals. On whose shoulders their responsibility lies. Well, again it's our responsibility. It is the responsibility of government, civil society, NGOs and all to come forward and help destitute elder members of our society. Destitute homes should be setup for such needy persons so that they can at least have safe food, shelter and health care. Destitute home will provide them a support of a non biological family. It is time to stop buck passing and taking responsibility. Today we are young, tomorrow we will be old. If we harass our elders today, the story will repeat.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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