Help our aged! Not so gold - the disadvantages of being old in the ME
"You can live to be 100 if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a 100," said comedian Woody Allen, who’s getting close to triple digits himself (and who has yet to retire from film-making). But if you have millions in your pocket, old age is a lot less scary!
Retirement is largely a Western world concept - a time of leisure and self-indulgence - a prize earned after years of hard work. For those lucky enough to stay healthy, it’s a chance to take spontaneous trips, renew relationships with partners, make new friends, or spend now -“free” time with the newer sprouts on the family tree. Continue reading below »
However, for billions of people, a comfortable, dignified retirement is an unattainable luxury. To shed light on the struggles of the elderly, the World Health Organization has declared June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Although Middle Eastern culture is often presented as one that ensures respect for the old, the struggles of our senior citizens are increasing due to the region’s underdeveloped economic, social, and health infrastructure.
Nearly two years ago, Lebanese singer Myriam Fares used her voice to powerfully raise awareness to this 'growing' problem. Her emotional music video captures the sadness of being placed in a nursing home, but truth be said, this is just one aspect of old age in the modern Middle East.
If you have previously assumed that agism is something of a non-issue or at least less marked in the deferential, parent-loving, respect-the-clan-elders observant culture, than the discrimination faced in West by O.A.P's or Senior Citizens, who are the butt of 'old-fogie' jokes and jibes, look again.
While you can’t do much to aleviate Jiddo’s knee pains or lessen Tatta’s indigestion, you can occasionally pay a visit, make a phone call, offer your attention and include them in your life. Social isolation is far more prevalent than actual elder abuse in this defiantly respect-your-elders climate, and it’s easily avoidable.
See our thoughts on aging in Arabia - issues certainly worth shedding light on- in our gallery of concerns for the elderly in the region. We can act now to improve the lives of our elderly, and make needed changes before we go grey ourselves.