By Beleta Hayat
Aging is one of nature’s course. It’s a time in life when individuals lose their vibrance, beauty and youthfulness. It’s a natural occurrence that every human goes through at a certain point in time.
Imagine a time in life when the ones closest to you are non-existent, all you have left are your descendants who are as well engrossed with fulfilling the societal demands required for them to fit in. it’s unimaginable but believe it or not, this is what the old generation is going through.
In Uganda, 1.68% of the population are the elderly from 65 years and above which is 5% of the total population as per the 2011 to 2021 statistics. (UBOS and ICF International 2012). They are the minority group and often excluded in major developmental initiatives since they are viewed as insignificant.
Living alone in isolation is one of the cruelties the old go through. At this point of their life, at least they have lost a spouse, parents, friends and other people closest to them whilst still young. Their children are either married or fled to urban areas to look for means of survival. This leaves the vulnerable elders living alone in terrible conditions without assistance despite their physical difficulties.
They go through a great deal of loneliness. In these times of life, humans demand the little things they once took for granted. These among others include companionship, affection, care and attention. However, all these become scarce in the later stages of life, not even a shoulder to lean on.
At least one or two of us have noticed the spark in our grandparents’ eyes and the warmth in their voice when we visit them to spend the years’ festivities together. It’s like if they had the power to keep us forever, they would. That is how desperate our grandparents are for companionship.
Poverty is another misfortune some elders go through. They live in great destitute due to their physical difficulties and general body weakness making them unable to work or find a means of survival. With this, some try to drag themselves onto the streets to beg. This to some becomes a routine as at least little energy is required for it.
Social isolation; existing in a different era is an unbefitting factor for this special generation. Times and the world have totally changed. Opinions uttered out by the elders in this new age are taken to be irrelevant. This is due to the conflicting and differing opinions and ideologies which can be referred to as ‘’generation gap’’
With all this happening in a person’s life, depression becomes inevitable. Surely, not even a super natural being can escape depression at this point. This becomes too much for a person to bear.
The most gleeful part of this is that society doesn’t give their depression any attention as everything elders go through is painted as ‘’old age’’ even in situations where medical attention would help.
Psychological pain is another problem this special group of people go through, besides the physical pain there is internal pain elders go through and none of us will ever understand. The thought of nearing one’s mortality is un imaginable. Its natural that death becomes closer as we get older. This makes it inevitable to avoid anxiety, distress and grief as elders await their fate.
Disrespect by the younger generation; with aging, there comes memory loss and general cognitive mulfunction which results into behaviour that make them seem alittle crazy and childish.
This makes the younger generation take them for granted and take whatever these elders try to say irrelevant.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO SUPPORT THE ANCIENT GENERATION IN COMBARTING THIS PAIN AND LIVING THEIR GOLDEN ERA TO THE FULLEST
Surely theres always a solution for everything even to things that seem impossible to solve.
One of these solutions can be medical attention; some of the challenges face by these elders can be helped through medication. For example, the physical that consists of joint pain, back ache the ear and eyes impairments. With our help these elders need to be encouraged to seek medical attention when the need arises.
Therapy; sometimes all this ancient generation needs is someone to talk to, a professional person to remind them that despite all they are going through, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
This professional assistance helps them cope with depression, anxiety and the general psychological pain and distress.
Companionship; older people need to be sorrounded with people who make them feel calm such as family, friends and social groups in the community. This can help them attain a sense of belonging. Through this, elders can overcome their loneliness.
Financial assistance; its so infortunate that some of these elders reach their golden age without any savings or finacial plan that would help them sustain themselves in their golden era.
Therefore, they need financial assitance that will help them acquire the basic nesecities such as food, clothing, shelter and maybe even medical atttention.
Lastly but least, encouraging elders join social groups in the community can be a great distraction to them. This can help them get occupied into the various activities in the groups. This can help in distracting them from all their worries, grief and distress.
They should be encouraged to get a hobby; having a hobby is a good way to keeping the mind busy and focused on one thing. Hobbies such as knitting, crafting, embroidery as well as games like bingo. This can help in occupying their mind to focus on more positive things and avoid them from over thinking about events that are inevitable and out of their control.
Surely, with all our efforts put together we can provide the ancient generation with the life that they truly deserve. Even though aging seems like a time of grief and sorrow, it can be changed if all these solutions are implemented effectively.
We can provide this generation the life that they deserve and make them live their golden era to the fullest.
It has always been the world’s effort to develop every aspect of life including humanity and yet the most important part is ignored and isolated. The old generation is shadowed, a generation that holds most of our stories.