There are three stages of growth in the life of humans and they are the childhood stage, the youthful stage and the old age stage. The youthful stage is the most active stage and it is important for people to take advantage of this stage and make the rest of their lives a better one. Mostly, people in their youthful stages forget that they will grow to become older persons.
Most people do not plan their old age like they do in their youthful years. It is common to hear someone saying that they wish to grow up to be in a particular field of profession and get married but hardly do the youths talk more about how they want their after youth life to be like. If you look at how bad the living conditions of some aged people are in Ghana and other parts of Africa, the heart breaks.
Most older persons face several challenges ranging from discrimination, isolation and being tagged as witches or wizards. Society is devaluing the relevance of the aged in the society and most of these people are subjected to all forms of torture on allegations of being witches or causes of family problems and so on. Perhaps, we have forgotten that we will all grow to get to that stage of life. Even though the challenges of older people in society did not start now, societal change has just made things worse.
In the olden days, family systems were mostly extended. Parents, grandparents, children, uncles and aunties stayed in the same house. The aged had people around them to care for them. They were not isolated and they played important roles such as telling stories and imparting knowledge into the younger ones, they also played the grandparent roles and as well settled misunderstandings between other members of the family.
They were considered as a repository of knowledge and it was believed that respecting and cherishing an older person brings blessings into the lives of people. But things have changed now and are now left isolated and are not seen as significant in some societies. People no longer practice the extended family systems. Children migrate, marry and leave for greener pastures leaving behind their old parents with no one to take care of them. Some visit just once in a while and others do not visit at all to check up how these old people are doing. Loneliness has therefore become a very common problem that most aged people face.
Aside from this , some religious leaders blame old people for all misfortunes that happen in people's families. It is common to see some pastors always telling people that their grandparents or any older person in their family is responsible for the misfortune such people may be going through. Some people as a result of this end up having a bad mentality about aged people and also consider them as witches and evil people. In as much as the Bible and Quran encourages people to love their parents and the aged, some pastors do not adhere to this and still go ahead to always name old people as evil to their church members. It is to be noted that not all religious leaders or churches or pastors do that. Some respect and cherish older persons. However there are some who make life a living hell for these older persons.
Everyone will grow to get to that stage of life. It is important we start cherishing and valuing our older persons in society. Governments need to put in place policies that will adequately ensure the needs and wellbeing of older persons. Even though there is the National Aging Policy whose goal is to achieve the overall social, economic and cultural re-integration of older persons into mainstream society, not much has been done to ensure that because older persons till date are seen on the streets of Accra homeless sometimes. Enforcement of such policies is therefore necessary to promote their well-being.
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