WORLD SENIOR CITIZENS DAY
An individual above the age of 60 is known as a senior citizen. When people are asked what they fear the most, many of them will say they’re afraid of growing old because they fear loneliness, Social isolation, Health concerns, Mental and physical decline, losing loved ones, not being able to financially support oneself or loved ones, and becoming a burden or dependent on family members and friends are some of the reasons people fear getting old. To overcome these fears “World Senior Citizens Day” is celebrated on 21 August every year. This day is dedicated to all senior citizens and aims to promote awareness about elder abuse and age deterioration. On this day, we also appreciate and acknowledge the contribution of senior citizens to the betterment of Society. This day is a reminder of all the social and economic issues that affect the old people around us. Various programs are organized by the concerned authorities to solve these issues and help the old aged people as soon as possible.
Since the beginning of civilization, senior citizens have played an essential role in society. They’ve historically represented wisdom, earned through a life filled with experience. While promotional experts are aware that senior stereotypes are changing, senior citizens continue to serve as experts in their field, as mentors, and as invaluable sources of skills and knowledge. Elderlies are a treasure of knowledge and experience for the youngsters as well as the economy at large. Old age may have its limitations and challenges, but the second half of one’s life is best to spend time with family and to guide and support your loved one. People get older with time and their wisdom is expressed by focusing on what is most important. Life isn’t about our age life is about living so when we reach a certain age we want to be more around family and friends.
Improved healthcare has changed demographics and increased productivity of older citizens, allowing them to be more active than ever before. With more opportunities available as well, many senior citizens now begin second careers and are an example for younger generations. The country’s foundation and stable sectors are the result of the hard work of our senior citizens and they deserve all our gratitude. As life expectancy increases, the proportion of adults in their retirement years is expected to grow in all regions of the world. According to recent data, there are approximately 901 million people worldwide who are 60 and over. By 2050, that number will reach 2.1 billion people, or 21.5 percent of the global population. It is said that with age comes wisdom, kindness, confidence, and ease. Several countries across the world are taking effective steps and making efforts towards safeguarding the lives of senior citizens and making their life comfortable and hassle-free.
In China, after retirement, it is the government’s responsibility to find new work for the senior citizens while in France the government has introduced the Pentecostal Holiday under which everyone must donate their salary for one day to the funds being raised for seniors and the government can punish those children who do not maintain regular contact with their parents. Switzerland ranked first as the best country to live in if you’re 60 or older where a 60-year-old living here can expect to live an average of 25 more years, with 19 of those years expected to be in good health. 100 percent pension coverage for adults over the age of 65. Switzerland’s Swiss Federal Ministry of Social Security has put into practice an innovative idea called time bank. An individual can work with the seniors if he or she is doing well. Taking them shopping, cleaning their house, cooking, reading to them are some of the things one can do. On registering the number of hours one has worked for a senior citizen in the social security office, an individual is offered free service for the same number of hours from the office during his or her senior years.
In the US, several efforts towards the welfare of senior citizens have been made. An organization called the American Association for Retired Persons has been set up. Family Medical Care Act has also been passed. One can get seven-day paid leave for his or her service to senior citizens. Apart from other amenities, even caregiver children are also taken care of here. Arrangements for counseling, informing them about all amenities and relieving them of their care giving work for some time are also made. In Norway there is 71.1 percent employment rate among older people. But there is 100 percent pension coverage for adults over the age of 65. The same is in Netherland also where 100 percent of people over age 65 receive a pension. In Philippines 50% discount on electricity, water and telephone is available for the citizens above 60 years.
Mexico is a great place for seniors. A person older than 60 can expect great perks, including discounts of up to 100 percent at supermarkets, pharmacies, and restaurants, and on public transportation. The government also supports a lively social scene for seniors through its operation of almost 7,000 community centers and clubs throughout the country. These are attended by more than 200,000 people daily, making them Mexicos largest social network. Even foreign retirees with a valid Mexican residence visa can take advantage of the over-60 discounts. Japanese government offers extensive care services for its elderly under the Long-term Care Insurance (LTCI) program to give institutional and community-based support to senior citizens. Everyone older than 65 years is eligible for the benefits regardless of their income, and they have flexibility in choosing their service providers.
Denmark has developed a wide range of services for the elderly. A large number of Danish companies develop products and solutions for the elderly and the disabled. Here the whole medico-social sector, including all social services, home help, health care institutions, primary health care and the organization of housing for the elderly people, is under the responsibility of municipalities. The Spanish government provides subsidies for families caring for elderly loved ones. These might include hiring home help services, to aid in the general upkeep and small chores around the home, or personal care, which help in bathing, feeding, and dressing. In India various schemes have been framed for the betterment of the Senior Citizens which include: Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Scheme, Varishta Mediclaim Policy, Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly,Varishta Pension Bima Yojana
United Nations encourages Governments to incorporate the various principles into their national programmes whenever possible for the betterment of their senior citizens. According to these principles older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help. They should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities, should be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place, should have access to appropriate educational and training programmes, should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities and should be able to reside at home for as long as possible. Older persons should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations, should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities and should be able to form movements or associations of older persons.
Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society’s system of culture, should have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness, should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care, should be able to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment, should be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their care and the quality of their lives, should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential, should have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society. Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse. They should be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.
In today’s digital age, senior citizens might quickly become overwhelmed by all new technology available, whether cell phones, social media, tablets, banking machines, or computers, we’re surrounded by digital gadgets. They may sometimes feel incompatible with this modern, Internet-dependent age, and this belief might make them feel inferior to others. We can sit with the seniors in our homes and teach them to use the new technology. We can also visit an Adult Care Home and sit with the seniors to listen to their stories and experiences.
Today, seniors are still active in their communities as well as continuing to have a strong presence in the workforce. For all they do and have achieved for the good of their communities, senior citizens deserve our thanks!
Systems need to be devised to engage elderly people in suitable vocations so that their wisdom and experience can be effectively utilized; this would also help them to retain their sense of self worth. Social security systems need to be developed for their general welfare. Healthcare support services need improvement. All health personnel should have additional training in caring for elderly people. A three tier health system needs to be developed so that auxiliary health personnel can provide ambulatory care in the community and be supported by a separate referral system for specialized care.
Neglecting care for elderly is a very serious issue which is common all over the world. The question that we need to ask is whether senior citizens deserve to be abandoned when they need us the most, especially after they spent the best years of their lives taking care of us.
Current challenges for ageing policies – the increasing number of elderly people in need, the lack of support for caregivers, the demand for solutions to reconcile care and work – are felt at all levels. They are likely to intensify and will not vanish from the agenda. The preconditions are therefore close to be met so that an acceptable solution can emerge in line with a bottom-up approach.
“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
(M Ahmad is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)