Love for the old-A A +A
Saturday, July 7, 2012
IN JUST some years back, when few people in this country talked about ageing and living as aged, there weren’t talks either of the rights of seniors. Not so long ago, this was a nation of young people.
I found an aspect of a short visit to an American city strangely odd, such as passing by an unusual number of homes for the aged in an hour’s drive on a highway, almost like you seeing coastal drive-ins for tourists in cities here.
Some years ago, I only heard of an institution for the aged through friends who are relatives of the founders of Hospicio de San Jose de Barili which was first set up in the 1920s by Barili philanthropist siblings Don Pedro Cui and Doña Benigna Cui as a charitable institution for the aged poor funded by income from the Cui enterprises.
I visited it in the ‘60s to write an article and it was strange to me to find a place where everyone was aged, most of them abandoned by their families. As my friends and I sat just outside the chapel, an old woman came pushing an empty stroller. She moved quietly towards the door of the chapel, stopped there, made the sign of the cross, then moved along, still pushing the empty stroller. You would look at it as dementia.
She did exactly the same thing again and again in that quiet atmosphere of retirement.
There are now more than just this of charitable institutions and auspices in the country. And more than the last count of 46 beneficiaries in the Hospicio de San Jose are surely in some other homes for the aged now in the country.
We’re in a state of seniors, so to say. Of course, there are more familial homes than institutions—the old citizens cared for by loved ones. A total of 6.8 million Filipinos in 2011 are seniors out of 92 million population. Although it probably doesn’t look attention-getting, the growth rate of the seniors in our life has been 4.39 percent from 1995 doubling through 2000.
But most of them are still active in living, retired but still working, are productive at home and in the community, even in politics.
Just a few years ago, seniors stayed in line for government service for hours to get to be heard about their concerns. Now, thanks to some government officials, like Sen. Edgardo Angara who wouldn’t let go of any idea of helping the old and the oldest old until it’s made into law, there are now the elderly-friendly republic acts, such as “special” treatment, discounts in medicines, groceries, transport fares, even in
movies, as well as pensions for indigent senior citizens aged 77 and above..
It is seen that in 2030, 10 percent of the population will be senior citizens, or about 7 or 8 million. This is a matter of fast-growing. In a 2006 study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute, the senior count is the “fastest growing segment of the Philippine population.”
Due to availability of medicines in this time—such as those which prevent strokes and heart attacks, and improvement in health care as well as awareness of growing old gracefully—the life expectancy of Filipinos has been increasing, from 65-67 in 1995 to 72-73 today.
No, it’s not like the case of the United States, a nation of “elderlys”, where one out of every five people is over 65. Of the population of 23.6 million people living alone, 38 percent are elderly. There are 2 million senior Americans in nursing homes while 50 million of the population will spend their last days in nursing homes.
Senator Angara hopefully won’t stop his mission for the elderly because the growth rate of the elderly population has with it problems, like the lack of health professionals trained to handle elderly medical patients. Geriatrics, or the branch of medicine specializing on the elderly, should be required of schools as a course.
Our culture of love in the close family and respect for elders warm the cockles of the heart.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 08, 2012.