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How various countries and cultures treat their elderly?

Growing old is a natural part of life. When an individual is young, he/she is capable of achieving every dream or desire. However as old age progresses, due to diseases and weakened body a person may not be even able to take care of oneself.

Various societies treat their elderly in many ways. In USA, seniors or elderly are typically send to nursing homes or assisted living as sometimes the adult children are too busy managing their own lives. According to Jared Diamond, a UCLA professor of geography and physiology states ” The idea that it’s human nature for parents to make sacrifices for their children and, in turn, for their grown children to sacrifice for their aging parents — turns out to be a “naive expectation” due to the conflict of interest between generations.

Diamond adds that many societies treat their elderly better than Americans do. In some cultures, he said, children are so devoted that when their aging parents lose their teeth the children will pre-chew their food. A closer look at how traditional societies value (or don’t value) their old people might teach us what to emulate and what to avoid. (http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/jared-diamond-on-aging-150571)

Below are some of the countries that provide insight on how they treat their elderly.

Japan:

Japanese people treat their elderly with utmost respect. It is common to find multiple generations living under the one roof. This could be one of the reasons for many elderly to live past a hundred years of age. There are more people aged 65 and over than younger people in Japan.

Japanese people believe in working hard and to the longest extent possible. Due to this reason some work well past their 80’s and 90’s. Having loved ones close by coupled with strong work ethics could enable them to liver longer and having happier lives.

One group of individuals who have a longer life spans are Okinawans. Their diet consists mostly of vegetables and soy proteins which attributes to low cholesterol and blood pressure. This diet also helps them maintain a healthy weight keeping various diseases and illnesses at bay.

China:

Chinese believe that elderly should have peaceful lives in their twilight years so they are better able to share their wisdom with the younger generation. Retirement homes for senior and elderly population are highly uncommon in rural areas of the country. Adult children are expected to take care of their parents in the old age. In their society, children are reminded to look after their parents and thus it’s their responsibility as the parents once took care of them when they were young. Now this does not mean that no senior or elderly lives in a nursing home in China. Due to one child rule, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for one child to attend to parents needs and they may be forced to choose that route due to circumstances.

If one of the parent develops Alzheimer’s or other mental impairment disease, family members or the adult children opt for having a caregiver at home that caters to the individual’s needs than placing parent in a nursing home.

Middle East:

Respect for parents and elderly is a pivotal part of faith in the Arab culture. Parents are treated with love and respect and they usually live with their adult children throughout their old age. Elderly parents are given the highest stature in the family. This type of care stems from the religion which emphasizes on providing respect and regard for parents at all times and more love and respect when they are in old age.

France:

France passed an Elder Rights Law in 2004 making it mandatory for the children to keep in touch with their senior or elderly parents. This law was passed after two disturbing events that had happened earlier:

– Statistics were published which revealed that France had the highest rate of suicide in Europe among pensioners.

– Heat wave that killed 15,000 people, majority of whom were elderly. They had been dead for weeks before they were found.

According to the law, the French government can punish adult children who fail to keep in touch with their senior or elderly parents. The punishment could range from fines to jail time. The children are required to take care of their elderly parents, pay an allowance and fund a home for them.

Greece:

Parents and grand parents have an important role in Greek families. The younger people respect their elders and accept them in certain roles. In rural areas, old male acts as a supervisor of the family. Young people may have to move away for better career purposes so that create loneliness in the lives of their parents.

However, in urban areas senior parents are more involved in the lives of their children as well as grand kids. If the couple is working, they often are responsible for taking care of their grand children. Their pensions are insufficient and so the children help them financially. The adult children take care of their parents in all aspects of life and in all stages of life.