The elderly must really envy the rhinos
Rhino poaching-elderly people. It’s simple, quite frankly.
Five rhino’s die, twenty thousand tweets later-the world mourns. The plight of SA’s endangered species cannot be taken for granted, we want our great great grand- children to be familiar with all of nature’s wonders, yes? Yes.
So we campaign and we create awareness, and we push for a million tweets on twitter, that will hopefully trend the poachers to a special hell for rhino killers. We raise funds, and we respond to every alarm signalling another rhino’s death.
And then, drum-roll – An Old Age home burns to the ground and eighteen elderly people die. The country condemns the deaths of our precious and wise antiques. But days later the mortuary is filled with bodies of people whose families never come back to identify them.
We speak to other Old Age Villages on the UN’s International Day for Older Persons (September, 1) and the plight of a more endangered species emerges.
1% of older persons living in the home are visited by their family, the village staffs say.
50% of older person’s family actually come back to arrange their burial. Other times, a simple funeral is arranged by their caretakers.
By 2050 it seems, demographically, the world will change so much that the global population of people over 60 will exceed the number of young people. This may not however be relevant to Africa since by 2025, one in every four people under the age of 25 will live in Africa. We boast the youngest population, and maybe that’s the problem.
“You can see the impact it has on older persons at the home because they long for their family, they feel totally rejected.
“They even deteriorate faster,” said chairman for the Andries Meyer Home for the Elderly.
I will never forget the overwhelming shiver that consumed my entirety the week we were reporting on ‘goggos’ raped in Limpopo. Trending on twitter, yes? No.
Two elderly murdered in Lenasia- no clear motive, no arrests. Trending on twitter, yes? No.
But wait, a rhino is dead and, we take to social media- rant on national and public radio. Already over 700 have been killed in 2013.
“In a survey prepared for the National Department of Health, the Africa Strategic Research Corporation (1999) found that 69% of respondents were aware of abuse of older people, and over half (53%) had personal experience of abuse.
“The three main types of abuse identified by the respondents are psychological or emotional; financial; and general maltreatment.
“Theft of pensions by grandchildren, and working without payment were the most common forms of financial abuse.
“Grandchildren were reported to be responsible for more than one-half of the abuse of older persons, followed by spouses and children.
“The DoH (1999:10) notes that the victims of abuse are usually 70-80 years of age,
overwhelmingly female, and suffering from illness or disability.
“The abusers are usually in the ‘near old’ category or in very young age groups, distributed proportionally between men and women, and are most often a family member.”
The above is quoted from a report by the University of Natal on poverty and older people in South Africa (2003).
With all the evident irony in our priorities these days, we certainly hope that the notion of caring for older persons don’t become an ancient concept derived when ‘rhinos still roamed the earth’.