IS IT IMPORTANT TO CARE FOR OUR ELDERS?
My own parents are aging, I increasingly feel a sense of responsibility to care for them. My father and mother have worked tirelessly to mouldme the Louis Aloysius I am today, religious, morally upright, Educated from good learning institutions some not even in Uganda, full of opportunities, comfort and privilege, extra. Caretaking for many at Saint Jennifer Foundation Aiding the Elderly (SJEFATE) our beloved Elderly age, it is imperative that as their children we return the favour of caring and loving for them. I’m sure this will resonate with many of you as you see your own loved ones age in front of you.Some of the reasons why I think they deserve the best from us are:
They are our mothers and fathers. Our first teachers, They teach how to love, how to care, how to give, how to forgive, how to accept, and most of all they are our backbone of support. Without their endless sacrifice during our early years, we wouldn’t be capable of what we are today. We need to care for our elders because they deserve to be cared for. Respect and care for our elders starts with our parents, our first teachers “mwanamugyimu avaaku Ngozi”meaning “we are a sourced from our parents.”
Wisdom. Our elders have more knowledge and wisdom than any one of us. We have a saying that “obukadde magezi” meaning “Old is Gold” Their experiences through the turbulence of storms that life takes them through yield great wisdom. They’ve come so far and they’ve learned so much, we have a responsibility to learn from that wisdom. So take the time to listen to what they have to say.Job 12:12 “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.”
Blessing. The Bible has many stories of successful people who got blessed by elderly people or parents. Isaac, blessed Jacob at 97. (Genesis 32:24-28) Before he died at the age of 147, Jacob summoned enough strength to bless each of his 12 sons. Let us care fore elderly to get blessing and favours from the elderly.
Morals, values, principles. Our elders have either acquired, created or have been brought up with a set of morals, values and/or principles in their life. They may not apply to our own but the least we can do is see how those values impacted their lives. We can learn a thing or two from adopting those values. Learn the right and wrong. Have the insight into a set of rules that we can outline for ourselves to follow and live by. Our elders would want the best for us and they would be more than willing to tell us what set of rules and guidelines have made them successful and hopefully, peaceful.
Respect, “Atatya bakulu affamangu” meaning “days are numbered for one whodisrespects the elderly”
1 Timothy 5:1 “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers.”
1Leviticus 19:32 “Rise in the presence of the aged and honour the elderly face-to-face.Fear your God. I am the LORD”.
Job 32:4 “Because Elihu was the youngest one there, he had waited until everyone finished speaking.”
The Unconditional love. No matter what you do in life, who you become, where you live, who you are with —our elders will always love us unconditionally. Sure they might be disappointed in you or be upset with you or me from time to time but at the end of the day we are still their little ones. This kind of unconditional love is hard to find anywhere else in this universe. The mere presence of our elders gives us hope and strength to keep calm and carry on.
Sacrifice. They worked toothand nail for you and me, that’s why Once we, as children, come into the picture our elders sacrifice much of their life to see to it that we are well and happy. They make sure to provide us with all the comforts (regardless whether they had or have enough wealth or not). They sacrifice their own lives, needs and likes to see a smile on our faces. They look to us in times of failure or success to remind themselves what they are fighting for everyday.
Experience. “The old broom knows every corner of the house” For this simple reason, we must appreciate them. We may or may not know of all the ups and downs they’ve faced in life but they’ve definitely gained experience that is worth respecting and learning from. All we are going through politically, socially, economically they have seen them before. “History repeats its self”, elders may hide much pain from us because they don’t want us to feel the pain, the least we can do is appreciate them for all that they’ve gone through—gained and lost—and learn from their insight into situations and circumstances.I have learned a lot from elderly Christians. Sometimes all you want to hear is how God has worked in someone’s life and their different experiences.Old aged people have been through many different hardship experiences that will help your earthly and Spiritual/ faithwalk. They have made mistakes and they will help guide you and me so we don’t make the same mistakes. No matter what age.Proverbs 20:29“The glory of the young is their strength; the grey hair of experience is the splendour of the old.”
History and heritage. our grandparents lived under the traditional leaders’ Rule and colonial rule (even before independence of 1962). They preserved the importance of our tribe, culture, our Ethnicity even within the family and community. The traditions, rituals, languages, new clothes for every festival, food, wedding festivities etc., are unique to that heritage. This heritage and history brings a sense of belongingness to all of us. Most importantly, it brings us a sense of identity of our past and the responsibility we have to stay true to our origins for future generations.“We are Africa, that is why they call us Africans”, without us Africa would be a myth. This heritage and history is best preserved through our elders. We have much to learn from them with regards to our heritage, culture, traditions, and norms to be proud of our past.
They are nearing their end and their future is uncertain. Put yourself in the shoes of an elderly person. When you know you are becoming fragile and your body is failing you, it’s difficult to cope with the uncertainty of the future—mentally and physically. Our elders may have many things on their mind but they may not be able to express them. Our responsibility comes in to give them the support they need to help them live the rest of their lives peacefully. No one wants their last days to be filled with regret and disappointment. So take charge of being that love and light, be with them in their last days.
we are human beings and it is the right thing to do. Humanity plays a crucial role in taking care of our elders. After all, “What we are they where, and what they are we shall be”we’re going to be elderly people some day too.The truth is we need our elders and we cannot live without them. There comes a day when they can’t live without us. They need our support just as much as they gave us theirs when we didn’t even ask for it. This brings out the humanity within us. This expression of humanity makes us human. When we act to care for our elders, our children will see that with respect and will act to care for us someday…at least we can hope they will.
Benjamin Franklin once said
“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young”.
Proverbs 16:31 “Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is obtained by following a righteous path.”
So if you have some free time:
*Go volunteer at a Nursing home like SJEFATE.
*Re-connect with your grand parents. Give them some room in your day today life.
*Talk to your uncles and aunts, see how they are doing.
*If you have elders at home, listen to them. Talk to them. Spend some quality time with them. They would be more than happy.
*Help an elderly man or a woman on the street. Say hi to them or simply smile at them with respect.
*if you don’t have time then send him or her to an Elderly home like Bedside Nursing home, visit them weekly.
*Donate, support and sponsor one or twothe vulnerable Elderlies in who are homeless.
You will be glad you did.
The writer is an administrator at
Saint Jennifer Foundation Aiding the Elderly (SJEFATE)
Department of Bedside Nursing and Caretaking services.