Let's stand by elderly citizens -The Asian Age

English scholar John Ruskin once said, "Our duty towards God, duty towards parents and duty towards mankind lead us to the essence of life." So it is clear that taking care of our parents comes right after obeying God.

The importance of looking after parents is vividly reflected through these words. Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle.

Terms and euphemisms include old people, the elderly, seniors, senior citizens, older adults, and the elders in many social circles. Sheikh Hasina is the only Prime Minister who has a very caring approach to the elderly citizens.

She has introduced allowances for the senior citizens. She has also laid emphasis on the value of elderly citizens in many of her speeches. We should follow the directives the Prime Minister has conveyed regarding the welfare of the old people.

Different religions have also called upon everyone to honor their parents. We came to this beautiful world through our parents. So, we should always behave with our parents respectfully.

Elderly citizens often face hardship and negligence in the society. In Bangladesh's context there is a particular law which puts people under legal obligations to take care of their parents as they become old but in most of the cases deprived and suffering parents do not resort to this law. As a result the tribulations of aged people know no bounds.

A lot of old parents undergo mental and sometimes physical torment at the hands of their ruthless children. For this reason it is important to make people aware of the law which can protect senior citizens from being persecuted by their offsprings.

Parents, out of immense love for their children, at times do not complain to the authorities about their deprivations. A great number of old people end up in old care homes where they lead a lonely life away from their families. The law regarding the betterment of parents dictates children to do the following duties.

All children will have to ensure the maintenance of their parents. Children will have to ensure their parents' wellbeing through discussions with their siblings. Children will have to enable their parents to live together at the same place. Children are not allowed to compel their parents to live in old care homes against their will. Children will have to look after the health condition of their parents and ensure treatment in case of any illness.

If parents live away from their children in that case their sons and daughters will have to meet them frequently. Children are under obligations to pay necessary amount of money to their parents for their regular expenses. Unfortunately most of the elderly people do not know about the above points which is why they remain silent when their children do not care about them.

Legal experts hold the opinion that the state should extend more cooperation to the senior citizens. It is essential to bring elderly people under the umbrella of social security. At the same time the implementation of the concerned law should be exercised in the right way.

Occasions like Mother's Day and Father's Day are celebrated worldwide on certain dates. People convey greetings to their parents on these dates. Some people also buy precious gifts for their parents on these days. However, speaking to parents with love and care just on a couple of dates is not good enough. Children will have to look after their parents and love them all the time, not only once or twice a year.

Nowadays we are living in a mechanized world. We hardly have time to talk to our parents lovingly. But it is our duty to keep our parents happy all the time. Our parents brought us up with great care and efforts. They did a lot of hard work to make us educated. So, we should remain ever grateful to our parents all our life. Our parents need our help when they grow old. Therefore, we should never become indifferent to them when they need our service.

The UN established the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) in 2010. Its purpose is to strengthen the protection of older people's rights by reviewing how existing instruments address older people's needs, identify gaps in protection and explore the feasibility of new instruments.

There are many international platforms for taking care of elderly citizens and other civil society organizations are actively engage with this process. Activists of different organizations call on their governments to support a convention and participate constructively in the work. These organizations support older people to take part in the OEWG and they submit evidence from their programs around the world to demonstrate why old people's rights need protecting.

Bangladesh government should encourage people to work for providing required privileges to the elderly citizens through higher incentives. Wealthy people should be inspired to build up old care homes so that helpless old people can stay in these homes with dignity. At the same time children should make sure that their parents are being properly treated.

Elderly citizens also need help with medical service, transportation and residential facilities. As old age often comes with health complications, that's why it is essential to stand by the old people with necessary support to enable them to undergo medical treatment in case of diseases. Hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers should provide special discounts for the healthcare of old patients. Moreover, the government should think about building up an effective healthcare system for old people.

The elderly people around us are rich with experience and knowledge. We can learn valuable lessons from their living history. Their struggle, achievements, success stories can teach us how to face the ups and downs of life. Simultaneously, it is important to remember that youth is not forever. Everyone becomes old at a certain age. So, we will have to be polite with the elderly citizens so that people show us respect when we will become old.

The writer is a diplomat, entrepreneur, author, Chairman of Editorial Board of The Asian Age and a CIP