Life as we all know evolves in stages.
From birth, we begin the process of aging. All things being equal, majority of us will grow old. Thus it will be apt to say that aging is inevitable for us. So why do we as a society pay the least attention to this process. What kinda welfare system should we have in order to adequately take care of our aged, (The old people in our society/parents or relatives) especially the ones we love.
For three years before my father passed, he was never paid his pension. My mum is going through the same thing. I keep wondering, what if the financial or emotional means to take care of them was lacking, they probably will be like some of our aged pensioners who probably die standing in line waiting for their pension that never came.
I am of the opinion we are not doing enough as a society. It is deplorable that so many people work and expend all their energy and when they become old, there’s no one to really take care of them. In one episode of my radio show (Talk Junction), we talked about the need for parents to ensure that they bond with their children because we believe that children who have a close bond with their parents are the ones most likely to take charge and care of them in their old age. That’s the way society is meant to evolve. we as children should be the ones to look after our parents, yes it is the African way. They slaved and spent all their lives looking after us so it is expected that we in return should take care of them. My parents lived with me for several years after their retirement. My widowed mum is 97 years old and I can’t imagine her living anywhere else but with me. Being the primary caregiver and living again under the same roof with your parents is an enormous role reversal.
Most of us living with aged parents find it difficult to balance our own busy schedules with looking after an aged parent so much so that sometimes it could be misconstrued as not caring. For some, it could be that the global financial mess, has left us thinking about self and our survival only. But this piece is about those who can but don’t want to. I am of the opinion that not just government but also the corporate bodies need to focus more on developing policies that protect this age bracket. In more developed society it is very easy to see a nursing home systems that caters to the old people but how effective can that be in our country. This is a place where most pensioners can’t even get access to their pension after retirement. Corruption has eaten so deep into our various systems that even the basic are not provided by the system. For me nursing homes are so impersonal and that is not our culture in Africa.
For people like us who don’t have the benefits of earning any pension, we are on our own. God forbid that in our old age we become either a liability to our children or worse still, a liability to ourselves. We have all seen the antecedents of government towards the aged and until a miracle happens, I’m not sure that will change anytime soon. I have never worked for anyone so what I’ve done is that through all the years, I have consistently put aside a monthly savings in a fixed account on regular basis which I haven’t touched for over 30 years despite sometimes my financial hardship. Planing, saving and discipline is the key to making the twilight years of our lives easier.
A lot of people wake up to the reality that after years of service, they don’t have much to show for it and that can lead to bitterness in old age. My summary on this will be to advice all of us to learn to cultivate the habit of saving for this phase of our life’s. We must imbibe the attitude of saving for the rainy day and our old age is the rainy day.
One day, we as parents won’t be able to drive, to climb stairs, or maybe even change our own clothes or feed ourselves. As painful as thinking about this might be, we need to prepare for our comfort and safety in the last stages of our lives. My prayer for us parents is to have children who will keep us company in our old age maybe take care of us with love and anything else.
Ka chineke mezieokwu.