EDITORIAL: What Should We Do With Our Elders?

EDITORIAL: What Should We Do With Our Elders?
by
03 October 2021 | 17:54

On the eve of the International Day of Older Persons, I woke up early in the morning and my first thoughts turned to our post-war villages struck by famine, with their patriarchal way of life. I remembered my grandparents and the elders of my childhood: my good granny Alexandra, my mother’s mother and my grandfather Ionică, my father’s father, who read a lot and was an incorruptible anti-communist until death. I also remembered uncle Ionică Cerneanu – the neighbor across the road, meek and kind in a way, but who would report to his father, every evening, the events of the day with all the pranks that may be born in the imagination of some children left on their own on a summer day; Vanea Ghizelu – a short old man of rare peasant intelligence, who could entertain us on every possible occasion; my sweet grandmother Catea and uncle Mihail – people of a rare finesse, who were like saints and spoke to us and to each other only in a whisper (it was a miracle talking to them); old Znova (the midwife of the village), whom all the children of the village knew and who was like our grandmother; old Natasca, grandma Manea, Mother Tudora, old Donea Dragan …

There was no special day of the year for the elderly at the time and I don’t even know if anyone needed to be reminded of the existence of the elderly in our lives. Every day was Elders’ Day. The seniors were indispensable in the life of the families, and families honored them every day. There was an unwritten law, a cult left by divine providence, and it stuck in my head, through which the elders cannot exist outside our lives, our homes, and our feelings.

Today the elders have their special day. Its purpose is not very clear. What can change a day, no matter how “white” it may be, in the lives of some elderly people, if the other 365 days are absolutely “black”?

During my childhood, sixty-something years ago, the elders were the pillars of the house. A coat of arms, if you will, for that traditional way of life, in which children arranged their lives next to their parents, honoring their age and status. Rarely was there a house without an old person in it. There were no abandoned houses and villages like now. Good, gentle, temperate, experienced, wise, pious, and very generous, the elderly were true life and family lessons.

They were our comfort too. They wouldn’t treat us to many presents, as the fashion is nowadays, but there was always candy at the bottom of the pocket and a few kopecks tied in a corner of a handkerchief to make us happy when they thought it was necessary. They were not just grandparents for us, their grandchildren, given that our parents, were caught up at work from early spring to late autumn, and could only gather us in the evenings, wash and send to bed. Grandparents were everything to us.

Times were no easier than they are now. The world had gone through a terrible war that killed over 50 million people globally as well as a severe famine (with a political, organized subtext) that took away more than 200,000 lives in Basarabia. There was, however, in all the rules of life more decency and discipline, there was more clarity in life. People were not tormented by all kinds of political, social, moral, and whatever experiments, which last for over 30 years in Moldova and whose end is not yet visible.

Years have passed and we live in different times now. The traditional way of life has changed. We are in an extensive process of a global reorganization of the world, in which the elderly, along with global warming, pandemics, and military conflicts, has become one of the great problems of the planet. Globally, the population over the age of 60 is constantly growing. The planet is getting older and older. According to the latest estimates, at the continental level, Europe has the highest percentage of the population over the age of 60. Germany is currently the oldest “country” in the European Union. As many as 25% of Germans are over 65 years old, while young people represent only 13%. Spain, Italy, Austria follow … International demographic experts consider the situation risky for the “old continent”, and the main threat is that the pension budgets of these states may face growing pressure in the coming years.

The situation is no simpler in Moldova. The latest statistics show that 28,5% of the population in Moldova is 65 or over. Practically, every third citizen of Moldova is an elderly person. We have surpassed even Germany, the oldest country in the European Union. Note that aging in the European Union countries is due to the advancement of the quality of life while in Moldova aging is caused by poor governing which resulted in the massive exodus of the young population. Moldova’s population before the disintegration of the USSR was about 4,5 million persons, now we have only 2,6 million. Another two million have gone all around the world. They are earning money for themselves and for those at home, they develop the economies of other states, give birth to children and raise them for other states, and they supplement pension funds for the elderly in those states. Our retirees found themselves in the situation of beggars, and governments resemble puppeteers. That’s the situation.

There has been no government in Moldova that did not lie to its elders. In the elections, they promised them heavenly life and that they would turn the elderly into icons to worship if they voted for them. We know what followed and what the elders received after they gave their vote.

The Action and Solidarity Party could change things. The Party has won the favor of Western partners and has every chance to attract projects and investments for “change” and development. Let us see if they will do it.

Yet, until those on “top” change their attitude towards old age and the elderly, let us, the children and grandchildren, do our duty to them. Let us visit them tomorrow, let’s knock on their door, let’s hug them, and rejoice that they are with us and that we have them… Let it be as it used to be. And not just tomorrow.

AUTHOR MAIL eng.zdg@gmail.com

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