29 October, 2020

That Wrinkled Gold

Social exclusion of the old only impoverishes our youngsters. We would all be better off if we realised that we need them as much as they need us.

illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
That Wrinkled Gold
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
"Never before in the history of mankind have so many people lived for so long."

Now that's the kind of grand statement that has to be read twice before one fully grasps its meaning. It simply means that there are more old people today in the world than there ever was. This is one of the greatest benefits of development. Thanks to better medicare, sanitation and awareness, most people will survive into old age for the first time in human history. This is good news for mankind. But it's bad news for the old people. Development has allowed them to experience old age, but it is insufficient to guarantee them a life of dignity and security. Two-thirds of the old people live in developing countries and the trouble is they become old before they become rich. The result is they live a life of dependence, deprivation and isolation.

Studies have shown that the old are the poorest people in the world. It is easy to identify the houses of older people because they are often the most dilapidated. They are unable to work. Laws discriminate against them. They cannot get...
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