Treatment of the Old by Our Society
I recently visited an old folks' home and had the opportunity to see the
treatment meted out to the old. The conditions there were so appalling that I
could not help but wonder how children can treat their parents in such a way. It
is obvious that modern society is built by the young for the young, with no
consideration for the old, sick, handicapped or incapable. They are merely
tolerated as a liability or nuisance. So these hardly wanted people are thrown
into homes instead of faring better, they are forgotten and left to the mercies
of the caretakers, limited donations from the public and financial problems.
The old, who was once young, must have helped to make the present society as
it is today. They would not have paid heed to the needs of the older generation,
thus they themselves are neglected and unappreciated now. But it is still not a
reason for neglecting the elderly in our society. An old person does not have
the physical ability of a young person. Walking itself is an effort, so crossing
the road, especially with today's traffic, can be impossible without assistance.
I have seen old men and women who could not cross a busy road that had no
pedestrian crossing. No driver stopped for them. So these old folks had to wait
patiently until a kind soul lent a hand. I have helped a number of them and most
of them were very grateful while some simply cursed the traffic. What is clear
here is that traffic rules are unfriendly to the old and the impaired, and
people themselves have no patience or respect for them.
The busy world today is certainly not kind to old folks. Getting onto a bus
is another problem they encounter. The old person is usually the last to get on,
if he manages. I have seen a bus conductor refusing entry of an old man, telling
him to wait for the next bus because his bus was full. If the old man does get
on, the likelihood is that he will have to stand. Rarely does anyone give up his
seat for an old man or woman as that is the culture our youth follows nowadays.
You see this trend in public buses and trains. While authorities are trying
the best to help them by allocating seats for special people, there are many who
misuse them. Many pretend not to read the signs or to see an old person standing
with several bags or simply feel they have more right to sit as they had boarded
earlier. Obviously, their upbringing did not include respect for the weak and
Formerly, the family unit was strong and practical as most people did not go
very far from their birthplace. Today, the family unit is breaking apart as
young men and women travel widely in search of better jobs. So, the old are left
alone and neglected. Sometimes, they are not wanted by their children. They are
left to pine their lives away in their empty house or in an old folks' home
where their children dump them and relinquish their responsibilities. This
neglect is a very real problem in our society and it is what the old dread the
most - being unwanted and uncared for in the time of need.
The indifference and lack of filial piety shown by the young is what has to
be addressed. Many countries have laws to safeguard the interests of the old.
While we cannot force the young to take care of their old parents, I suggest the
authorities take action against those who are found to have neglected their
parents, leaving them to starve, unable to take care of themselves. Even if they
have no choice but to place their parents in homes, they should visit them
regularly to check on their welfare and the care given by the caretakers.
Failure to do so should be reported, and these uncaring children should face the
law like any other criminal. The matter should be taken seriously. We must
remember that soon, our parents will die and we will take their place.