People over 60 years of age are considered elderly in Bangladesh. As the average life expectancy of the people in the country has increased, the number of elderly people is also in a growing trend. By now, almost 15 million elderly people live in Bangladesh which is anticipated to exceed 20 million before 2030. These statistics pose our country with a few sorts of significant issues related to family, society, state, economy, and of course healthcare.
As we get older, our body changes at different stages. Although these changes are not an absolute sign of any tangible disease or ailment, somehow these can be painful for elderly people. None can stop this aging process, but can significantly abate the impact of ongoing changes.
During this period, our aged parents may behave like children. They can no longer take care of themselves. At this age, people start to suffer from loneliness and need to have company. So, the call from the aged parents has invariably to be managed with top priority as it is our exclusive obligation to take care of them. We have to be sympathetic, cordial, compassionate, and friendly to the elderly ones in the family and facilitate their survival in the bond of mutual love and dependency.
At this ending phase of life, the majority of the elderly do not generate any money as they cannot work. Hence, missing the purchasing power they cannot do anything they desire. Therefore, they are to depend on their off-springs and relatives which might induce them to feel a burden to their family. It is to note that the person who has been employed his whole life for the family members, the latter have lots of responsibility to repay the debt. The shifts elderly persons face and endure, in their hard times we need to stick around them, cooperate with and help them to find a source of joy in living. As senior citizens, they should be paid the highest devotion and are entitled to receive congenial care. We should never forget that this old age is an unavoidable perspective of life and we have to go through that rugged reality – some days earlier or later.
As the eightieth-decade contemporaries, most of us have experienced our grandparents’ part in telling stories and fables to us, spending time with us for emotional well-being, and educating us with an active pattern of socialization. They instilled the ground sense of existent societal values and norms inside us. We greatly enjoyed cozy and child-like friendly treatment from our grandparents which we will reminisce about for the rest of our life with a profound vibe.
Since the inception of the industrial revolution, the joint family structure started splitting up and turning into a nuclear family. Over time, the culture of segregation of large families had practically influenced and convinced the entire world. And it is now a prevailing social phenomenon even at the onset of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). This family-centered fraction has grown an unfavorable mindset towards the elderly people–even today when we are living in a so-called educated, civilized, and significantly advanced society. Being ignored the roots and the blood ties–mutual respect, love, care, and empathy among the family members have been a forgone topic today!
In some contexts, the creation of employment opportunities for women, migration from the rural to the urban, leaving home for abroad, and shrunk financial capacity have also been catalyzed in connection with inadequate care for elderly people. Incidentally, the lack of existing family values and social norms has drastically changed our all-in-sentiment toward elderly individuals. The incentives and safety-net programs for the senior citizens initiated by the state are not enough to address their problems and are also not proportionately supportive of survival with the fulfillment of basic human needs and dignity.
The writer is an academic
& psycho-social counselor