London (Discourse): How are we treating our elderly?

How treating elders

Event details

  • Thursday | August 20, 2015
  • 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • South Wing, G12 Council Room, University College, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT
  • 5Staff members

How are we treating our elderly?

Dr Khesrow Sangarwal

Afghans have a proud tradition of respect and care for their elderly. For centuries, the Afghan culture and society have celebrated aging and have perceived old age as a source of wisdom and knowledge. Politically, Afghan elders have always been put at the forefront of governance and decision making by the monarch or head of the state. While the youth has fought deadly battles and wars, the elders have led those battles from afar. The very first head of the modern Afghan State was selected by a Loya Jirga of elders from various Afghan tribes, who also ensured the success and advancements of the newborn political regime.

The present day Afghan Constitution has allocated the upper house parliament, De Mushrano Jirga, literally translated as ‘the assembly of the elders’, to the elders of the country. The Afghan family is the only institution that not only cares for the elderly but is also led by its eldest member.

However, the urban lifestyle, and the adaptation of the busy, modern, and westernised way of living over the past two decades have fundamentally challenged this tradition. It seems like Afghan society now lacks the sort of moral and ethical will that it once held in relation to its older members. This new way of life simply cannot afford the kind of resources that an increasingly expanding, and expensively demanding elderly population requires.

According to the GlobalAgeWatch index 2013, Afghanistan is the worst country in the world for older people.

While advanced medical care, and better quality of life have contributed to improved human longevity and the increase in the average life expectancy in Afghanistan, it has exerted unprecedented pressure on the family dynamics, and the state economy.

The urban Afghan family often face a painful dilemma when it comes to caring for their elderly. The absence of easily available and affordable assisted living facilities, and families’ reluctance to take up such facilities has more than often resulted in older individuals living a distressing and neglected life.

At Discourse Hour this week we will be discussing the fate of our elderly in an ever changing Afghan society. In a discussion with a group of intellectuals and professionals, we will try to address the following questions:

1- What are some of the traditional ways of caring for the elderly in Afghan society. Please share your thoughts, and experiences. If possible, please discuss with your older family members before coming to the discussion, and share with us the family stories and experiences of care of elderly in afghan families.

2- What are some of the challenges facing the elderly in present day Afghan society?

3- What can be done, both at the state level and in Afghan families, to enhance care of the elderly, and to reduce cases of neglect and abuse?

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