“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD.”
Leviticus 19:32 NLT
In June 2017, The Daily Telegraph reported on the rise of abuse of the elderly in care homes. It noted a 33 per cent rise over two years. It is predicted one-fifth of the UK population will be over 65 within ten years, a quarter by mid-century. As care provision collapses under the weight of demand, families separated by geography and strained health services, the future looks anything but bright.
I reflect on this because some months ago my mum decided she wanted to move into care. She had lived with us for two-plus years, and now wanted the security she felt a care home offered her. At first we were shocked, but we supported her decision. Such care costs an enormous amount and the quality is often questionable. Most of mum’s generation are not complainers by nature. Brought up on a philosophy of making do and getting by, they endured a war seeing friends and neighbours killed in bombing raids and where food was rationed. Speaking up and speaking out isn’t her style.
Recently one of her possessions went missing from the home. Nothing of any value, save for the memories it stirred within her. A gift from my brother she liked and had kept hold of for some 30 years. As family members we only heard of it from her and on making enquiry we were politely brushed off by the management. This was a time when as family we needed to support Mum, even though she felt vulnerable because we could be seen to be criticising the care provision. What was her fear? They might take it out on her. We calmly addressed the issue as one of those dragons that must be slain.
The elderly can prove frustrating with their slow movement and oft-repeated stories. Yet, they enjoy the grace of God and you are to be a part of God’s provision for their welfare.
How respectful are we of the ‘grey-headed’ among us?
Lord, help us as a nation to value every generation, both young and old.