It’s a fact that people are getting older – and with a growing population, the number of older adults is increasing too. The United Nations have estimated that the population of those over the age of 60 is set to grow by 56 percent worldwide in the next 15 years.
That’s a lot of people in need of care – how do we respectful look after them?
A recent British survey conducted by the Guardian saw that society is failing to value older people’s skill, knowledge and experience.
In the UK, older people have contributed an estimated £61 billion to the economy, which is approximately $101 billion AUD, through employment, volunteering and caring.
And yet of the 1,250 people in the ageing population research, 92% of them believed that older adults’ contributions were not recognised.
There is this generalised idea that the public view older people as a burden rather than an asset. In a society that promotes youth culture, many felt that the knowledge and skills that older people can offer is overlooked by most.
Many of us are taught growing up that we should “respect our elders”, I’d change that to say “utilise our elders” – listen to their advice, learn from their experiences. If they have skills that can help you then use them.
Some older adults don’t need us to “take care” of them, rather, they want us to “care” for them. What I mean by that is to care about how they feel; include them, listen to them – they aren’t useless and they certainly are not a burden.
Isolation, particularly in the elderly, begins when they stop feeling like they are needed and is made worse when they feel like they are getting in the way. If an older person isn’t able to do one thing, it doesn’t mean they can’t do anything.
And this kind of care is what inspired the Responsible Care Initiative. When elderly people are still able to help, they should be utilised and appreciated. And that doesn’t just stop when they are unable to do the things they used to – we still need to show them care and appreciation for all they have already done.
Whether they are at home or in aged care, Responsible Care is about our ability to show people that we care about how older adults and the elderly are treated and cared for. It is our responsibility to engage with older people to understand their concerns and expectations.
We need to change our attitudes towards older people, and we need to make sure that we give back to them all that they have given to us and to our society – emotionally, financially and physically. They deserve it.
To learn more about why Responsible Care matters to us visit Responsible Care Page