Since 1991 every year on 1 October, the International Day for Older Persons is being observed globally under the auspices of the United Nations. Its objective is to highlight the problems of the elderly and stress the need for society to address them.
Almost 700 million people in our present day world are over the age of 60. This number is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030 and 2 billion by 2050. Older people have particular needs and face many challenges to which the society at large needs to pay attention. It is equally important to recognize that the majority of older men and women can continue to make important contributions even if they retire from active jobs.
However, older people are often treated as second class citizens. They are not considered for employment, they are denied proper life or health insurance, they do not get special facilities in offices, banks or other places which they have to visit frequently. In this world of speed, the young outrun the elderly all the time.
Even weather and climate affect old people more harshly than others. Heat waves, cold waves, air pollution and such other factors are adding to their woes through a greater incidence of heat strokes, asthma attacks or arthritis. While young people can take a dip in swimming pools or have a holiday at a hill station, the older persons are often left to fend for themselves and they are clueless about what they should do.
However, not everybody is careless about the elderly. God is solidly behind them. The Bible has this prayer, “Do not cast me away when I am old. Do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” (Psalm 71:9) But it also has God’s answer to that prayer, “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
Whether they are written off by a youthful society as old people, or respected as senior citizens, God surely takes care of them.