The potential of the elderly needs to be recognised and utilised for the community’s benefit
few years ago, I heard a story about a community that decided to dig a well because of a water shortage. Because choosing the location for the well was difficult, the villagers consulted an expert, who chose a location before the digging began. However, despite extensive digging, there was no sign of underground water. The villagers were distraught and unsure of what to do next, so someone suggested talking to older people in the village.
They spoke with older people, who said, “We can’t tell you where you’ll find water, but we can tell you where the wells were in the ancient days. We heard about that from our parents and grandparents.” They were told where the old wells were, and the people picked one. After digging there, they discovered water.
This kind of stories are frequently told when a challenging circumstance is resolved with the help of senior citizens. Older people are rich in knowledge and experience since they have been through many different circumstances. Unfortunately, we are not taking advantage of older people’s ability to improve the society and the world today. Instead, we are neglecting their experiences. In today’s technologically advanced society, older people are frequently not consulted since it is generally believed that their expertise are obsolete and that they lack the ability to solve modern-day problems.
The fact is that older people have the potential and can contribute in several contexts. Our youth today, who are preoccupied with android phones and the internet, particularly need the guidance of experienced older people. They are the ones who require assistance from more experienced people as they plan their future and seek consultation for day-to-day problems and difficulties. The elderly may support our young people not only in their professional but also in their personal lives.
In addition to being consulted at the individual level, older persons can also be consulted at the societal and policy levels. The current economic crisis is Pakistan’s top concern. Pakistan’s elderly population is a valuable resource that should be used to help the country get out of its terrible predicament. Many outstanding Pakistani economists and professionals who have dedicated their lives to conducting research, devising economic policies and teaching economics are still around. These retired seniors likely have suggestions and solutions that can be used to make things better. The government of Pakistan can take the initiative by enlisting the help of these seasoned economists. A group of “economic experts” can then be established with the mission of creating Pakistan’s economic road map.
Many senior citizens are eager to participate and will offer their valuable advice. The best aspect of the proposal is that there won’t be any expenses because these elderly people can volunteer their services.
The quality of education is also a significant problem in Pakistan. We worry whether our universities, colleges and schools are producing graduates of the requisite and expected calibre. A federal minister brought this up via social media a few days ago and requested suggestions about curriculum. Older people can play a significant role in this because Pakistan has excellent scholars and educationists who have expertise with the educational systems of other countries as well as Pakistan. They can offer assistance and help the Pakistani government design an educational system and framework that can produce not just competent professionals but also good human beings. It is possible to create a group of education experts who may advise and assist the government.
We frequently hear that tarbiyat, a key element of our society, is lacking, particularly in our educational system. The older generation itself can take the initiative and launch a tarbiyat programme for the youth. Older people can mentor our youth on various social issues and concerns using the social media. This can lessen societal issues including the rising divorce rate, the mistreatment of women, hypocrisy and dishonesty.
These days, the most critical issue in the world is climate change. Due to their weaknesses, older people are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The process of developing policies for climate change and disaster risk reduction should include older people. Given their knowledge and experience, they can offer guidance on coping mechanism. They can also inform us on their vulnerabilities, which need to be addressed and considered.
It’s vital to recognise that elderly people have experience that is valuable, A 60-year-old person has at least 40 years of experience. If 50 people over the age of 60 live in a community, the community has a minimum of 2,000 years of experience, which is a significant amount. Giving these senior citizens opportunity is the only way to make use of their wisdom and expertise.
Civil society organisations and national and international non-profits can play a significant role in increasing awareness of the value of older people’s experiences. They can also assist the Pakistani government in creating platforms, such as pools of economic experts, education experts, etc. It is crucial to provide retiring professionals with chances to continue making satisfying use of their expertise.
The author is a communications specialist and a freelance writer. He is based in Rawalpindi and can be reached at: qureshiwaqasgmail.com. He tweetsqureshiwaqasA