The era of youthfulness is the first privilege anyone can enjoy. This era is characterized by powerful exuberance and the desire to do. However, this era has a lifespan. The thought of old age is a dreaded thought in the minds of young ladies and most gentlemen.
This is a dreaded thought because of the changes it brings in the attitude and physic of the individual, coupled with the evil treatment meted out to them.
From the look of things, Old age should be the period of rest, where these old people enjoy the sufferings and hard work of their youthful age, but the case is different in our part of the world.
The problem is multi-dimensional to both women and men. To be an old woman in Africa, Ghana to be precise is a curse more than a blessing. Every part of this old woman is a symbolic representation of something which cannot be proven. From the wrinkles on her skin which symbolizes a witch to the description of her fallen tooth which shows her eating of human flesh. The presence of the old woman in the house proves the validity of the false prophecies.
The old woman is the cause of the lack of employment for the young graduate who failed unimaginably in his school life. The old woman is the cause of the barrenness of the young woman, who committed over three abortions during her early age. The old woman is the cause of the long period of spinsterhood of the young woman who discriminated against all the gentlemen that came her way. To this end, some people even banish their old women into isolated camps, a typical example is the Gambaga Witches camp in the Northern region in Ghana. Amidst these cruel allegations, some insolent and promiscuous young men exploit these old women for sexual satisfaction.
The old man as well is not pardoned during this period. It is at this period that he gets cursed for all the "blessings" he gave to the family. This is the period in which he is exposed to his “irresponsible act” of waking up early for work and staying for longer hours at work, as well as taking overtime duties just to get enough money to keep the family going. At this time, this old man is not given much attention and is accused of a lot of things, such as never attending PTA meetings, never visited children in school, and never helped in doing the homework of the children. If this old man invested all he had to promote the education and other welfare of his children but was unable to buy a land or build a single room for his family, he becomes the most useless person the world has ever hosted.
The general attitude of excessive complaints, fallen tooth and other weird and unexpected behavior that comes during this age has been scientifically proven to be normal. For this reason, resource centers have been established in most Western countries to cater to the needs of these older people. Much respect is accorded them and they are referred to as senior citizens and not old folks. Special events are held to honor them, and they are visited for advice. Although some of these interventions are present in Ghana, they are rare or seldom do they happen.
These thoughts and many others that arise during old age are the number one killer disease of our older people. Although the laws refer to these acts of inhumane treatment of our older women and men as emotional abuse, they never get addressed and it kills these Older People faster.
As a solution to this problem, the need for a renewed mindset about old age is very pertinent and needs to be inculcated in individuals throughout their life. The evil treatments meted out to them must be stopped. The government and other Non-Governmental Organizations, as well as other private organizations and individuals, must work to establish more resource centers to house these senior citizens.
Also, better strategic policies and social interventions should be introduced and existing ones be vitalized to give special privileges such as free or reduced transportation fares and football match fares to these senior citizens. Price cuts or special discounts on shopping, special events, and annual honorary awards must be put in place to entertain these senior citizens.
Housing policies that make it possible for these senior citizens to rent or perhaps own a house should be enacted. Electricity and water charges to the homes of these senior citizens must be subsidized squarely, so as to free them from debts. Better retirement packages and certain tax cuts must be introduced to give them some economic freedom.
This and many more will go a long way to ease the tension on these senior citizens and keep them alive for some few decades more. So, instead of these senior citizens asking when they will be dying, they will rather have a reason to thank their maker for their life on earth.
Author: Michael Ofori