Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Caring for the Old

Aging is an inevitable natural and biological phenomenon. There are many perceptions of the old generation varying from one culture to another. Some people have the positive views like “old is gold”, or “old person in the family is a blessing”, while some people think that “old is worn out” or “dead wood”. In general, taking the problem from the point of views of old people themselves and the people around them, it appears that the aged are viewed as a disadvantaged group and present an acute social problem. This points out to the facts that there are negative conditions regarding aging and the aged group which call for some remedial measures for its correction.
The problem apart from its psychological and social components, irrespective of the financial issues, has increased because of improvements in health/medical care and longevity in life. This has kept the aged physically and mentally young. Technology and rapid social changes have, on the other hand, made the aged isolated and worn-out.
Once the old family members were the symbol of wisdom and experience for the young, and their stay with the families were cherished. However, the growing tensions, pressures and achievement motives before the young and adults, particularly in the urban areas of the country, have made the old people burden on the families.
There is a growing need to tackle the issue seriously. There are different sorts of remedies available but more important is to pursue them properly. Both the government authorities and the people must play positive roles in this regard.
The main problem is to keep the old people occupied in one way or the other. The projects and schemes could be started by the private enterprises for the re-employment of the old people with light work of short duration, or the opening up of self-employment opportunities at the local level in small communities. This would be equally applicable both in rural and urban areas of the Afghanistan.
There is a need for the creation of voluntary services in the field of primary education like health and family welfare centers and other voluntary or non-governmental organizations at the local, regional, provincial and national levels. In this way, the old people will have a sense of belonging and contributing to the national development apart from having a sense of pride and honor with maintaining their self-respect and dignity. This would save the old persons from many socio-psychological problems. It would have very important implications on their mental health. It would be certainly better to contribute to the national development rather than simply waiting for the death and complaining against the friends, relatives and time.
The revival of friendship ties with friends, relatives and neighborhood would contribute to health past-time and establishing relationships in primary groups. The relationships within the family could be reestablished by participating into the affairsof the sons/daughters and grand-children in a democratic way. This would give the old persons proper psychological satisfaction and emotional contentment, thus, enjoying the retired life in a richer and fuller way instead of total withdrawal and isolation.
Active involvement in the family/community affairs with respect to birth, death, marriage ceremonies and religious festivals would keep the old men and women active and alive and would develop a sense of participation. These social and religious activities are likely to make the old generation happy and contented with a sense of pride and honor – the best way to spending retired life.
The rest and recreational activities are the most suitable means for the old people requiring in active participation. Radio and TV could play an important role in presenting national and international sports events on major and minor games regularly. Same is the case for providing indoor games for the old people. Even participation in local ‘meals’ would be of much significance to the old people. Such indoor sports and games could be arranged under the shade of a tree, or any other common place. In short, the involvement in community affairs even inter-community affairs would be of much use for the old people where their life-long experiences and wisdom could be utilized by the younger generation on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a source of mental satisfaction for the old people.
Establishing old age houses and even small villages and centers for the mentally and physically handicapped is another solution for problems of old people in urban areas. The poor, unwanted and rejected old people could live there and spend the remaining days of their lives at these places in a meaningful way rather than having an empty life in isolation with a deep sense of inferiority complex.
Last but not the least, regular visits to old family friends and relatives, coupled with frequent travel to various parts of the country in groups would be yet another means of spending old-days in a fruitful way. These frequent visits and traveling with change in environment would certainly help in decreasing their tensions and frustration for some time. It would be better if these visits and travels are made every season or year with close old age friends and relatives.