One day in 365 is just not enough. It’s not enough for our parents, and the parents of our parents. It’s not enough for those people who have seen so much change, and still remember a Nevis that we have never seen, nor will ever see again. That is why I”m glad that the Federation is using the whole month of October, not just the first day, to respect and honour our elderly people. We need to make sure that their lives are still as good as they can be, even though their bodies and minds may be weary from over-use. This “Elderly Month” doesn’t mean that we should all take to bed and get false teeth (although we should definitely do that some other time), but rather that we should take time to think about these people, to thank them for giving us life, and to make sure that what remains of their lives is peaceful. None of us can know what it’s like to be old until we are there. Even when we are told by doctors of the diseases that crush the brain and exhaust the body, we don’t know how much the person behind the illness continues to think and see, long after we may have decided that they are blind to the world.” I can only imagine that when we are old we will still notice a pitying look, impatience in a relative, or an insincere show of kindness, and we won’t want those things. We”ll want kindness and attention. And fun, too. Not that different from now, I guess. This week there has been a programme of activities for the elderly at the Flamboyant Nursing Home on Nevis, ranging from the spiritual to the fun-for-fun’s sake. From what I have heard about the elderly living in the Home, many of them have age-related illnesses that have already taken them beyond the ability to have relationships, or communicate much with others around them. This is the tragedy of old age; when the best you feel you can do for someone is make sure they are fed and kept clean. This is why old age is often called our second infancy; we are as dependent as babies again. But I hope that with this week of activities, and with this month of focussing on our elderly, we will see that despite appearances of hopelessness, all is not lost. Our efforts will always be worth it, even if the best they bring out is a faint glimmer of recollection, or a moment of unexplained joy, in the faces of our parents, or our parents” parents. They still need to know that people care, as we all will hope for that same reassurance when it is our turn. I think that the nature of a society can be seen in how well it takes care of its elderly. I hope we will prove to be the kind of society that knows that one day our children, too, will be old -” and they will need care.
When Parents Become Children by Anna Gaskell Observer Staff Writer
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