Elderly issues hardly get adequate attention beyond formality in policy talks in Bangladesh. Crises in the lives of elderly people are emerging with growing severity day by day and we are still wallowing in our untenable pride of rural tradition of looking after the old people with due respect in the family. We are comfortably blind to the fact that that rural culture is failing to survive in the current socio-economic waves and would be in ruins unless institutional approaches are not taken to deal with the crises.
"UNICEF says Bangladesh will enter the elderly society in 2029. And from there, it will gradually become a greying society in 2048." This warning is printed on the cover of the Community Talks Newsletter (July - December 2021) featuring elderly crisis and care in global perspective. This newsletter of international characteristics is published from Dhaka by CSWPD (Community Social Work Practice and Development) Foundation. It is jointly edited by Social Worker M. Habibur Rahman, Associate Professor and Chairman, Department of Sociology and Social Work, PUB (The People's University of Bangladesh), and Mr. Sug Pyo Kim, Representative of IFSW-AP to UN and President of Daegu Association of Social Workers, South Korea.
Mr. Sug Pyo Kim has written about the condition of elderly people in Daegu, the South Korean city he lives in, which has been dubbed the 2nd Wuhan for its rapid infection of Covid-19, especially how social workers dealt with the situation at nursing homes for elders. He has found public-private partnership very fruitful in facing the challenges of coronavirus. Covid made human rights of the elderly people restricted and prone to violation. He writes, "The old people lost their free will by Covid 19. They couldn't see the family they wanted to see, and they were restricted from going out. I think the issue of senior citizens' human rights should be dealt with in greater depth in the future." (Elderly Crisis and Care Giving during Covid19: Global Focus)
The elderly issue is more urgent than we are used to thinking. Dr. Profulla C. Sarker, Professor of Anthropology and Social Work and Advisor, Royal University of Dhaka, writes, "In the period between 1911 and 1991, ... the elderly person i.e. 60 years and above has gone up from 1.4 to 6.1 million and it constituted about 5.4 percent of the total population in 1991. In 2019, over 13 million people living in Bangladesh are aged over 60 which are 8 percent of the country's total population. If the existing rate of increase is to continue, it is expected that by 2050 the elderly people will be 21.9 percent with 36 million people aged over 60 years. This means that for every five Bangladeshis, one will be a senior citizen." (Elderly in Family Transition of Bangladesh in 21st Century: Challenges to Providing Security for the Aged People)
Mr. Habibur Rahman's Recommendations for Solving Older Problems in Bangladesh are: "The amount of pensions and old-age allowances must also be good so that they can continue to eat and are independent. Appropriate hospitals need to be established so that older people can receive better treatment at lower cost. State hospitals need to provide separate beds for them. Various tests and medications need to be available for free or at low cost. In addition, it is necessary to establish a specialized department for the treatment of the elderly in large hospitals. Family members and children should be careful to have regular medical examinations. Older people should be invited to various social, family, religious and even government functions so that they do not feel unnecessary and neglected." (Elderly Situation and Measures: Bangladesh Perspective)
In this special issue, there are the following articles: "Elderly Crisis and Care Giving during Covid-19: Global Focus. The Example of the Municipality of Thermi, Greece" written by Maria N. Morfidou, Head Social Worker of Community Center of Thermi, "Therapeutic Accompaniment to older adults in times of COVID -19" by Prof. Tec. A.T. Vladimiro Chiattone from Argentina, "Trends and Developments for the Elderly in Thailand" by Asst. Prof. Puchong Senanuch, "Social Protection for the Frail Elderly in Poor Villages of Egypt" by Ahmed Wahbi Hussein, "Social Work with the Elderly during COVID-19 Pandemic in Japan" by Prof. Makiko Miyazaki, Taisho University, Japan and many others.
Besides the ones mentioned above, articles from Nepal, Nigeria, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Philippines, the UK, India as well as Bangladesh have made this journal a truly global platform for discussing the emerging crises in elderly lives from a global perspective. This gives a chance to find the issue focused and see it from different cultural, political and socio-economic angles because of the ample diversity among nations.
Through discussion of the issue from the global perspective a common thread of the existing elderly crisis can be identified and solutions can be sought and applied more suitably in local situations. Bangladesh must wake up before the elderly crisis becomes unmanageable and chaotic. Only making policies would not be enough if their proper implementation at the reality level is far from adequate.
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