We need to dedicate more effort to a welfare system that supports and protects elderly citizens — especially those regarded as surplus to the economic requirements of society.
Elderly citizens often become inactive and are mostly confined to their homes. Old age suddenly reduces their ability to engage in thorough physical exercise or go about their day as once was. They have no choice but to depend on others from trivial activities like grocery shopping or visiting a life-long friend to severe responsibilities such as regular hospital check-ups.
The widespread perspective of many Ghanaians is that the aged have no valuable contribution to make to the business community. And after retirement, they’re plunged into the harsh social realities of life without financial security.
Our pension and social security systems have not been able to guarantee a life of dignity for the mass of our white-collar, industrial workers, petty traders and farmers. But the issue goes beyond cash or mere materialism – others get pulled into a downward spiral of perpetual depression and loneliness.
We need to encourage the creation of solid safety nets to ensure aged citizens maintain a decent standard of living and benefit from a system they’ve contributed a lifetime to.
Also, Ghana hasn’t quite caught up with the digital age in a manner that is accessible to all social classes. While well-to-do aged citizens are able to use mobile apps to access basic amenities or even maintain a healthy lifestyle, there are many others that can’t leverage these same opportunities.
Technology could bridge the gap of neglect most adults suffer. As a millennial, I’ve certainly had my fair share of painstaking tutorials teaching much elderly relatives about using their tech devices – we need more of this. The government must look to tech support systems to address this issue.
We also need healthcare facilities that have a sole focus on the elderly and have the medical equipment to deal with their needs.
Healthcare shouldn’t be a responsibility left to the individual; it must remain a shared obligation between private citizens, privately owned corporations and state institutions.
The elderly, in possession of great institutional memory, can still contribute their quota to national development and shouldn’t be regarded as a disposable demographic. The expertise of such persons, for those with sound minds, do not diminish simply because their energy and industry may have waned.