Why the Elderly are Vital to Society

Why the Elderly are Vital to Society

By Ugne Aksiutovaite

This week highlights the importance of appreciating the elderly within our society. As children, we are often told to listen to the wisdom of our elders and show them respect. However, it is usually almost a given thing, and more often than not, we are never enlightened as to why that is. Here at the Planet Calls, we want to delve into all the reasons why elders are an essential pillar of society.

 

On a personal level, grandparents play a vital role in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Research has shown that elders are important figures in every family structure that help young children and adolescents develop. When they form strong relationships with their grandchildren, the elderly become another source of love, comfort, and knowledge. Intergenerational learning benefits both the elderly and the young as it can bring new perspectives on various issues and valuable life lessons.

However, something that may seem so personal also largely contributes to our society. If the elderly were not able to babysit their grandchildren, it would have a massive effect on the economy. Most societies have very scarce childcare services, and there are a lot of parents who aren’t able to afford them. The elderly also often look after their spouses as they suffer from illnesses linked to old age, such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, amongst many others. This allows the ill to be in familiar and peaceful surroundings. It also means the elderly play a vital role in minimising the pressure healthcare systems and elderly homes would have otherwise.

It is important to acknowledge just how much the elderly actually support our society, economy, and personal lives. If more people were aware, then perhaps as a society, we would be able to close the gap between generations. There seems to be constant bidding against each other with less intent to appreciate and understand the importance of different generations within communities. However, there are various outreach programmes that help to bring the elderly closer to other members of society. Chance 4 Children is a non-governmental organisation from the Czech Republic.  It mainly focuses on helping socially disadvantaged and disabled children integrate into society and sets them up for better opportunities in life.

Recently, they started their Hand to Hand initiative, which connects the isolated elderly with children from orphanages. The goal is to replicate the natural relationships that seniors have with their grandchildren. Orphans not only grow up without the influence of their parents, but they also miss out on all the benefits other children get from their relationships with grandparents. The elderly in senior homes can often be left feeling lonely and yearn for the joy that comes from contact with grandchildren. The Hand to Hand initiative has seen many positive results from bringing the orphans and seniors together.

The youngsters are learning how to sew and knit, while the elderly are being shown how to rediscover old songs on YouTube. The time they spend together also includes lots of food, beverages, singing, skits, and memory games. We do, indeed, often hear that we need to respect our elders. When we delve into the structures of society and family, it becomes clear that there are actually many reasons for us to do so. Perhaps, what we need to hear more is the encouragement to interact with our elders. Hand to Hand is just one of many initiatives that are established to help reconnect with senior citizens.

Outreach and senior support programmes are up and running in many countries, and everyone can get involved. It is a great way to acknowledge and appreciate the vital role elders play in our society.

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