Mar 30, 2010, 1:03 PM
In our African society, the elders play a very important role in the upbringing of a child to become a productive person in society.
They are the foundation of every home and thus, their role in society should be highly valued.
Most of the time, when elders are getting old, society tends to neglect them. They always become isolated, some persons will not have time to take good care of their elderly relatives, and they feel lonely.
The health of the elderly should be a priority for everyone, considering the fact that, when they age, their immune system becomes weak and they are prone to diseases like hypertension, diabetes, tuberculosis, asthma, obesity, among others.
Hence this is the time when the elderly are badly in need of the support and care of their children.
Sometimes it is good to take them for an outing to visit old friends as this would greatly help them to think about the past.
Leaving them in one place will add more stress to them, which at the end of the day can bring serious health problems for them.
One thing that we have to put at the back of our minds is that one day we too will be old, and how would we feel if our children neglect us?
In The Gambia, Ageing with a Smile Initiative (ASI), a community-based organization, was launched in January this year by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr Abubacarr Gaye.
The association is doing a good work to address the plight of the elderly in the country. Giant steps have been taken in this area to complement the efforts of the government.
Members of ASI conduct home visits to the elderly to check on their welfare. ASI also organizes lunch for the elderly, and a screening exercise to check the blood sugar levels of the elderly at the community level. These efforts made by ASI should be commended.
They show us how to cherish the role of the elderly in society.
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
Leo F. Buscaglia