We should cling to our traditional social support system for the elderly
For someone who grew up in the African setting, and in other places, where aging citizens find support in close family members, it might seem frightening to imagine the elderly being sent to homes to be taken care of by professional foreigners elsewhere.
However, the realities of social transformation, growing demands around working arrangements associated with increased life expectancy and other relevant changes imply that African society is moving towards the same approach to managing its the elderly. Younger generations are unlikely to find enough time to directly care for and live with their aging parents and grandparents in the same homes.
In addition, the inherent decline in adherence to traditional norms, customs and rules of conduct may contribute to the problem. The working class of today is therefore likely to find that if it lives long enough, its children may wish to delegate their care in old age to someone who is paid, and in time, to a place where they are with other older people to interact with, just as it happens in societies where such things have long taken root.
If the above happens, it will be unfortunate for a number of reasons. The African social system, from which many of our pillars emerge as a society, was built around ensuring the transmission of knowledge and customs across generations. Thus, the African child was raised as much by his grandparents as by his parents.
This was largely ensured by the child’s parents and grandparents living in the same place or a short distance from each other in many cases. Aging grandparents would be assured of the care of their own children, who would then be energetic young adults.
At the same time, grandparents would have enough time to raise their grandchildren, as naturally they would have slowed down their work and spent most of their time at home.
In addition to the fact that young adults would thus have enough uninterrupted time to devote to their professional tasks while knowing that their children were well cared for at home, very young children benefited from the wealth of knowledge and experiences of their grandparents. and were trained to become responsible citizens. The above arrangement has contributed significantly to the preservation of African social norms, customs and practices. She protected the soul of society.
If we completely lose this kind of social system, a journey that we are already well underway, in fact, the behavior of our populations, our approach to relationships, the preservation of the family and the ability to judge well between what is right or wrong will go to the water. Our society is subject to all sorts of influences, some of which may be negative. Its young people would grope in the dark, with the possibility of an insufficient assessment of their self-worth, and could easily form their aspirations far outside the realities of their actual situations.
Social norms affect all aspects of a person’s life and can positively or negatively determine the economic progress of a society. If a society loses control of the process of influencing the social norms adopted by its young people, it faces a more rigorous task of trying to influence adults in what may be generally beneficial, but nonetheless unappealing to said adults. . A haphazardly evolving social system is not favorable at all, and yet it is a likely scenario in a situation where the foundations of our social construction continue to crack.
Young adults can really lack the time to sufficiently influence and prepare their children. The economic demands of our time dictate this. For young adults whose parents are still alive, this duty would therefore rather be transmitted by ensuring that young children spend enough time with their grandparents. We can thus preserve our social fabric. By doing so, we will implicitly keep the child-parent-grandparent bond stronger.
This would provide the necessary social support for the elderly. It would also provide the necessary control around the formation of the social wiring of our population. It’s a win-win arrangement for everyone. Otherwise, we will have a society in which people do not know how to behave and function to ensure order and predictability. This can easily degrade a society that is not responsible for itself.
When we see older generations continually bewildered by the behavior of younger ones, it may be because no one is in charge of guiding the younger generations well, to some extent. The traditional social support system for older people in Africa, which ensured constant interaction between children and grandparents, was in fact still a key benefit for younger generations and for society as a whole.
Raymond is a Chartered Risk Analyst and Risk Management Consultant