By Yin Nwe Ko
YOU might have met someone who is passing his or her old age without a family member or companion. For everyone, the period of old age is very important because elderly people often need certain help. From morning to bedtime, elderly people cannot do everything about their daily routine such as washing their face, preparing breakfast, having breakfast, washing their clothes, having a bath, and even going to the toilet.
It is well known that as a society, we live much longer thanks to improved living conditions and health care. While being able to reach old age is something to be thankful for, in many ways, there are several challenges facing the elderly, which we all need to pay more attention to. Often it is not until we start to age ourselves or we see a loved one struggling that we sit up and take notice, but as a society, we can do more to make life easier for our ageing population. This article outlines the biggest challenges that elderly people face today and how we can support them and enable them to age with dignity.
There are lots of outdated stereotypes about elderly people, which can lead to isolation and marginalization in a lot of communities. By coming up with innovative ways to involve older people in the community through social events, we can not only help them to maintain a sense of identity and self-esteem but also tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience they have, which is so vital for the development of society.
While we are living longer, unfortunately, the world of employment and retirement has not evolved at the same pace. Many elderly people are able and more than willing to work past the standard retirement age, but the opportunities are not there. In addition, managing day-to-day finances and planning for later life can be challenging for older generations as much is now done online or remotely. This can also leave them more vulnerable to fraud and scams.
A person’s mobility and dexterity will naturally decline as they age, which makes completing everyday tasks more difficult. This can gradually cause people to care for themselves and prevents them from being social, pursuing interests, or taking part in activities they enjoy. More support is needed to enable elderly people not only to live independently through products and programs which focus on safety, balance, fitness, and mobility but also to ensure they can continue to thrive as an individual.
When complete independence is no longer practical, many elderly people require additional care. Sometimes this care can be provided by family members, but this can place a lot of strain on the caregiver in terms of balancing this with work and other family responsibilities. These caregivers need to be given the training, resources, and emotional support necessary to help them deliver the best care for their loved ones and themselves.
In some cases, it is more appropriate for a professional caregiver to be employed regularly, e.g., when there are complex medical conditions and/or physical disabilities. With a comprehensive elder care service, the elderly person can remain in their own home.
Healthcare can be complicated and disjointed for elderly people, especially for those struggling with long-term conditions. The care requires lots of different medical professionals and clinics to coordinate the delivery of medication and other types of care.
We all need to prepare for the inevitable, but death is often a difficult topic for people to discuss or make plans for. Elderly individuals and their families need support when considering the end-of-life options available, financial implications, and how to ensure that the individual’s wishes are respected.
Among the much more socially complicated work mentioned above, I have an intimate friend who is one-year senior to me in the University but one-year junior in age. She is an ex-lecturer of an Education College. She is single and now in her late 60s. We were at the same University but we did not know in person each other at that moment as we took different majors. Unexpectedly, we became friends on Facebook and she became a member of a group I established. I posted my articles in the group and she often made some comments about the respective articles. This is the beginning of our friendship.
Later, we exchanged our phone numbers and made phone contacts occasionally. Since then, I happened to take notice of her lonely life. She is in poor health and so am I. However, she is worse than I am because she has to take several medications for her kidney and liver. She is a stubborn lady who always refuses to have a companion to help her in her old age. Some of her friends including me have urged her to raise a young girl many times but our advice is in vain.
She recently went to Yangon to take regular medical check-ups. In addition to her liver and kidney cases, she made some check-ups on her alimentary canal because she had some suspicions about it. The physicians managed her to take an endoscope through her anus with anaesthesia. On her trip to Yangon, she had no companion. She stayed at a monastery where she did there before. Therefore, she needed a companion while taking anaesthesia. Fortunately, one of her intimate friends in Yangon helped her difficulty.
After the examination of her alimentary canal, the physician who made regular check-ups to her liver advised her to take other medical check-ups of her chest and lungs because she lost about 20 pounds during the recent period of about two months by noticing her coughs. Therefore, she would have to take an X-ray and check her phlegm. At that moment, she lost her appetite and could not eat well for days resulting in to become somewhat weak.
After coming out her X-ray and phlegm results, the physician decided that she had tuberculosis and made instructions to take medicine for TB which is very effective and powerful. When she came back from Yangon, she brought four groups of medicine – for the liver, kidney, alimentary canal, and TB. As she could not eat her meal well, she bought some fruits she likes from Yangon. Although she could not eat her lunch and dinner well, she had the fruits forced by herself as she was going to take the medicine. The fruits she ate could not support her enough energy as much as rice and curry. Therefore, she got weak day after day.
Last night, I made a phone call to her to ask her about her health. Her voice was not heard immediately as usual. A little later, her voice came faint. She seemed to speak to me with force. I did not like her voice which was not active and strong. She said she could not stand up because she got dizzy when she did so. Therefore, she could move on her bed and an easy chair. I felt sorry for her a lot as I knew she was helpless. At this moment, there must be someone near her. In reality, someone should be near her long ago. There was no one to bring medicine or water. What is more, no one would cook and feed her what she liked. There was a queer thing. It was nothing but she has not imagined someone who would stay close to her and help her needs.
Will we regard her brave or stubborn? She has told me before that she liked her lonely life. It is not possible to allow anyone to enter her lonely life. Or is she a picky person? I am now closely 70. She includes the list of the people whom I have not understood up to now.