From time to time, it pays to revisit the role of the elderly in society. Particularly their unspoken worth and value that is so often unwittingly lost to peers and future generations. Our elderly are by definition the most experienced members of our community but as they age and transition into more passive, physically constrained roles in society, their importance and roles too often dwindles, particularly so as they enter professional care. Indeed we are surprised when we read or watch the physical prowess of any ‘unusual’ individuals seemingly defying the ageing process achieving great feats at an advanced age. We celebrate opportunities where their standing need not be so tied to their physical capacity.
As issues of physical weakness unfold with varying consequences ultimately leading to some form of care requirement, the weaknesses of the elderly unfairly, perhaps unintentionally, overshadow the wealth of experience and insights gained by an individual or indeed all who are collectively encompassed when society refers to the ‘older generation’.
Video caption: Introduction to The Elders, “With their experience, and their profound commitment to building a better world — let us call them global Elders.” — Nelson Mandela
We celebrates the organisation The Elders and its leadership in reminding all of us of the worth, albeit a select group of elderly statesmen and women, of the ‘elderly’ to the global community. What parallel can we draw for our immediate community? More so, in our own families how can we better pay respect to our own living ancestors and work to better engage and keep them integrated in our lives longer? Their insights and knowledge maybe just below the surface? We are talking about more than basic respect which many of us already are in the habit of providing, but extending on that and seeking advice and calling on their knowledge.
After all, they probably have seen it before. It is too easily incorrectly to assume the new world technologies and advances excludes the elderly’s participation. Why not create an opportunity for the younger generations in your family unit to gain and share from the human record of your family history direct from the sources the next opportunity you get if you are so lucky they are alive? It is so often easy to focus on providing care, being a responsible son or daughter (grandson or granddaughter) and diligently managing the care requirements be it medical or logistical for a loved one. We must be careful not to fall into the trap of forgetting to help foster a participatory role as respected advisors and story tellers of lessons learned for our beloved ageing community elders. In this way we preserve and show value to their identity as well as re-elevate their standing.
We focus so often on fostering the quality of care for the elderly (and vulnerable) because we believe elevating the importance of quality of care and the expectations of what our parents and grandparents should expect to experience today in professional care (whether it be at home or in a facility) is critical to setting a high standard and ensuring operators and providers strive for excellence and improvements in a fair and reasonable way. ACRC does this because, often as an increasingly vulnerable segment of the community, particularly as we approach the most advanced stages of ageing, the elderly’s basic rights in small communities are not protected or preserved. Their standing is not celebrated as it could be and the learnings from their decades of experience passed, lost into nothingness going unrecorded and unspoken as unintended secrets to the grave.
We love the basis of The Elders, as a group of independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights, as it underpins and elevates the value of age celebrating wisdom and experience of a generation. We love the importance placed on the ‘elders’ in the global community giving standing to their insights and experience.