I Love The Elderly.

by Patrick Liew on October 6, 2013

I am grateful to the elderly living in our midst. They did their part to build the world around us and we are enjoying the fruits of their labour.

Without them, including our parents or grandparents, we will not be alive. They looked after us and made it possible for us to live our life.

When we were young, dependent and vulnerable, many of these elderly lent their hands to look after us. They helped to provide the food we need, clothe us, protect us, and look after our every need.

They have contributed to developing a conducive environment around us. They built up our community, economy and country.

They passed on sound philosophy and values to us. They are an important conduit of wisdom, the application of which can help us to live and to live well.

Unfortunately, many of us have closed our minds. We have not been the most diligent in soliciting nuggets of wisdom from them. Someday, many of will fully understand what this meant when we try to pass on some of our nuggets to the next generation.

When our eyes are open, we can see true beauty in every elderly – not the kind of beauty that has oftentimes been distorted by the commercial world. With open ears, we will realise their stories are melodies of a different genre. They can nonetheless be just as captivating, just as enriching.

No matter how educated, smart or accomplished we are, there are more lessons that they can teach us. They can highlight virtues and warn us of dangers to put us on track to a meaningful and fulfilling life.

They have a wise teacher that has spent more time with them than us. This teacher is Professor Experience.

Experience can impart many valuable lessons in life and these lessons may not be taught in a classroom. Fortunately, they can be transferred to us through our elders.

How can we repay our parents and the elderly who have helped us directly or indirectly in our life? How can we return a debt of gratitude to the people of their generation?

When we meet an elderly person, remember they are somebody’s parents and loved ones. What if they are our parents, how will we treat them?

What can we do for them that we hope others will to do for our parents?

We should learn to feel for the elderly. It can be very scary to grow old and to feel the ravages of time on your being.

The elderly live with fear of suffering from sicknesses. They do not want to be in pain and be a burden to their loved ones.

They are frightened of being shunned and rejected by people around them. They worry that they will not be given a chance to find meaningful activities and live a dignified life.

At the back of their mind, there is a living nightmare that they may be abandoned. Left to die all alone in a desolated place.

Remember: We, Too, Will Grow Old.

Fast forward into the future: The same troubling thoughts and challenges may also plague us. The same feelings may also eat into our heart.

The good news is: When we look after the elderly, we are also setting an example for the next generation. Someday, when we grow old, they will be inclined to look after us too.

They will feel for us in the same way we felt for the elderly. They will look after us like the way we have done our best to help and support the elderly.

This is the cycle of life that makes us humans. It has generally not been broken since the beginning of time. We have to make sure that we preserve and enhance the legacy.

There are people who are against looking after the elderly or are not doing anything about it. In the future, they will be thankful that many people are working for them now.

When they grow old, they will realise others have been protecting them and fighting for their well being. These people have been securing the evenings of all our lives.

We will do well to remember that the way we treat our elderly will shape our community and future.

A basic question that we need to ask ourselves is, How do we want our community to be like?

We can adopt an ethnocentric attitude and be concern mainly about protecting our interests and pursuing self-serving goals. The fabric of our community will fragment and be torn apart.

By not looking after the poor, the  weak, and the disadvantaged such as the elderly, we dehumanise society and gut the soul out from it.

Ethos and values that bond communities and uphold civilised society will begin to disappear. They will decay and eventually, be decimated.

When we make sacrifices and endeavor to look after the last, the least, and the lost, we fulfil our rightful obligations. We will build a more loving, a more compassionate, and a kinder society.

When we stand together and support one another, it will drive us to improve quality of life. It will make our world a better home.

We can then look forward to the future with hope and optimism. We will have peace of mind because we are assured of a place in a gracious society.

This noble aspiration may not enhance our bank account but it will enrich our self esteem and fulfillment. It will help us find greater meaning, purpose and significance  in our life and such returns are priceless.

Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations. This challenge is compounded by the the fact that family units are getting smaller and total fertility rate is on the decline.

The concerns of looking after the elderly will become more pronounced. There may be more diverse, complex and even unpredictable issues in the near future.

We will do well to confront the problem now and continue to fine-tune the solution. We will then be better prepared to resolve similar or even potentially worst problems in the future.

This is a challenge that must be resolved by individuals, communities, and the government. It’s only by working together that we can find a positive and sustainable solution.

Please allow me to close by asking some critical questions. May they help us to search our soul and ensure that our heart is well and in the right place.

If the elderly are difficult to deal with, unresponsive, and potentially, a burden to us, if we don’t look after them, who will look after them? If not us, who?

In the same vein, who will look after us when we become like them?

How should we set an example and teach our children and their generation about respecting the elderly?

How can we teach them about looking after the elderly so that we will not be abandoned and left to fend for ourselves in the future?

How can we prevent others from disrespecting and  ill-treating the elderly and potentially creating a cruel world?

Together, let’s help the elderly  live a meaningful and fulfilling life. Let’s do everything possible to help them age with dignity and gracefully.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please visit my website, www.patrickliew.net

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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