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Re: The aged: Love at the dusk of their lives

By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor

We toil, and toil and toil!  Then we hoard and hoard and hoard.  What for? For the future.
For our old age.   That’s the mind set  of most human beings.  We don’t know what the future holds for us, but we know what we want it to hold.  That is, a life of ease and good health, particularly in our old age.  I’m yet to come across anyone who wants suffering programmed into his/her old age.   How much of our future can we really control?  Hardly any part.  We just sail along; trusting that God will allow our dream to come true.  You can’t really be sure of this, so, meanwhile when you begin to approach old age, you start thinking of possible helpers and cultivating them.

Those with children count themselves lucky as they reckon that what they’ve sowed into their children’s lives; loving care, good education and good nurturing, etc. will bear fruits,  as these ones pay back when the parents become old, helpless and dependent (not necessarily in terms of finance).  Even those parents who had not been alive to their parental responsibilities still expect their kids to do the right thing and be there for them in their hour of need.

The likelihood of things working your way depends on your luck because you may not get rewarded for  all that hard work and sacrifices you made for your offspring.  A sobering thought, but how can you help that?   I know some people who equally sow into their relatives with the hope that they will get back something in the way of caring and companionship in their old age.

This may or may not work out your way.  What about those who don’t have children, and who may not be able to afford paying people to come and care for them when they’re old?  You may have to fall back on your relatives, and get help that may be given in grudge; depending on how helpful you had been to them in the past.

We got a lot of responses to our piece with the title above.  Understandably, most must have come from those who are middle-aged and above.  Some said the article got them depressed as they contemplate what old age may hold for them.  Others support the idea of getting the young people involved in caring for the elderly as early as possible as they’re taught that they too will grow old and need help.

We publish here below, some of the responses we got, and thank all those who wrote in.

‘Good day Madam.  Your topic ‘The Aged: Love at the dusk of their lives’ was very educative and informative.  The young ones of today should know that they will be old tomorrow, and so, should treat the old how they would want to be treated when they are old themselves.  God bless you for the write-up.’  Francis Okoro, Lagos.

‘Ma, your story in the Sunday Vanguard of 27th December,2009, terrified me a lot.  Don’t you think we should go back to polygamy so that widowers can be saved from the kind of scenario you painted in your article?  Thanks
Oshodi A. Ahmed.

“I’m so touched by your story about the aged.  I agree with you.  Young people need to be trained to care for the aged.  Please repeat the story.’ Nnamdie Etuk, Eket.

‘Just read your emotional piece on the aged.  It brought tears to my eyes, especially as I don’t have kids.  Your story reminds me of the story of a man who went with his son to bury his father, who he wrapped in only a shroud; no clothes, nor coffin, not knowing he was passing a message on to his son on how to bury him.  Keep it up.’  Beauty, Akure.

‘Madam, like you said, we all desire old age, but many dread what it could hold in store for us.  To begin with, the changes in your physical form can be devastating.  You look at yourself in the mirror when you are getting old, and you see a depleted form of what you once were.  This is not pleasant and enjoyable at all.  No matter how rich you are, the body must age in one way or the other, and this depresses one. Despite the botox and plastic surgeries, you can’t buy back that youthful body that you had at the peak of your health.

You may try to cope with this, but when you don’t have people who tolerate your slow and awkward movements, and who have time to keep you company, then life is bleak and that could hasten the end for some.  A way out is to throw the young and the aged together for support.  This means bringing up children to think of, and care for the elderly in the family.  Thanks, Mama Mary, Ikeja.’

‘Auntie Helen, God bless you for sharing your friend’s story with us.  All too often, we fail to reason when we’re young and strong.  I’m sure that old man’s son and his wife didn’t mean to be cruel.  But because they’re still full of vigour, they couldn’t tolerate the clumsy movements of his father.    I’m middle-aged myself and I’m looking forward to a pleasant old age, by the grace of God.  Without having heard that story, I and my wife have been bringing up our kids to help the elderly.  During the long holiday we always send them to our home town to help our elderly parents.

Luckily, my wife and I come from the same small town.  They’re so used to looking after elderly people that if I cough or sneeze, they would rush to ask me if I was alright, if they’re within earshot.  With God helping us and our children, I and my wife are looking forward to having caring children and grand children around us in our twilight years.  Thanks, P.J., Ibadan.’

‘Madam, I totally agree with you that caring for the elderly should be taught in educational institutions of all levels.  Right from an early age, children should be taught to respect and care for the old people around them.  I’m not  old yet, but that was how we were brought up in the sixties.  Help should not be limited to only the old people in your own family, but to all around you.

This modern way of having a wall around your house which separates you from other families doesn’t encourage bringing up kids to know, respect and help the elderly, especially in urban areas.  Rural area is better in this respect. So, teaching  help for the aged in schools will be of great use.   Toba, Offa.

‘If children now look down on their parents and we’re now fretting about who will care for us in our old age, the problem is largely ours.  Why?  Because we think that if we’re able to give our children the best material things in life, we’re being great parents.  This is a foolish view of life. Showing by example how to care for your fellow human beings is the best legacy you can leave for your kids.

Those kids who have their fill of every material thing tend not only to be lazy, but selfish as well.

They take you for granted as their meal ticket, and they don’t feel that you would need them in any way.  If you allow them to get away with this attitude over the years, don’t expect them to shed it when you are old, and feel obliged to care for  you.  Kids from underprivileged families tend to care more for their parents.  This is because they’ve weathered storms together and they know that they’re needed.  Thanks.   Felly, Abuja.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.