When old folks laugh, they free the world.
They turn slowly, slyly knowing
the best and worst of remembering
Saliva glistens in the corners of their mouths,
their heads wobble on brittle necks, but
their laps are filled with memories.
These are some beautiful lines from the famous poem ‘Old Folks Laugh’ by Maya Angelou, describing old people.
What do we think of when we hear someone mention Aged people? Grey hair, distorted face, wrinkles on head and forehead. How do the aged people feel? As an unwanted member of the family and society? The age problem certainly confronts us and the matter is taking a turn for the worse over time. But getting old is a natural process inherent to all human beings.
On 14th December, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated 1st October to be celebrated as the International Day of Older Persons to highlight the importance of elderly people and bring awareness of the challenges of aging in today’s world. This Day is designated as such, following the Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging, which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly and endorsed later that year. The International Day of Older Persons was observed for the first time throughout the world on October 1, 1991.
It was estimated for the population of the aged to almost double over the next 3 decades, taking the count to more than 1.5 billion people by 2050. Caring for the elderly aids in self-development. Old-age is a time when they need help with things they could effortlessly do by themselves before. The provision of integrated care is key for older people.
According to the World Health Organization’s guidelines on Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE), it is important to provide aged people with the best health care facilities to prevent or reverse declines in the physical and mental capacities of older people. According to the National Health Portal, as part of the commitment towards the elderly, the Government of India (GOI) provides various preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services for the people above 60 years, under its National Program of Health Care for the Elderly (NPHCE). The basic objective of the NPHCE program is to provide separate, specialized, and comprehensive health care to senior citizens. GOI also provides benefits like health insurance schemes, tax exemptions, and concessions in rail and airfares to the senior citizens.
The elderly are the truest form of wisdom who teaches us the value of family, relationships, and life in general. It is important to keep them happy at this age because they know their days are counted. Keeping in mind these words of Henry Ward Beecher, “There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child,” we must give them back the love they showered upon us for centuries without expecting anything in return.