Old age

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ <eme­te­ri­o_barcelon@ya­hoo. com>

AFRIEND ap­proached me to com­plain that we had no pol­icy in deal­ing with old age, or the age 60/65 and 90/95. We have been re­tir­ing peo­ple at 65 and yet they are still with pro­duc­tive lives be­cause of our med­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. In the time of Jose Rizal to reach 50 was ripe old age but now peo­ple are liv­ing strong and healthy to 90 years of age. Those 25 years are be­ing wasted ac­cord­ing to him. We should har­ness them for the good of ev­ery­body.

When I go to the ceme­tery I read the ages of my rel­a­tives and many of them died in their 40’s with some reach­ing to 52/55. That was the long­est they lived but now 80 is still an age of the strong. They may have some health con­cerns but they are still lu­cid and able to be use­ful. In his opin­ion, we are wast­ing the pe­riod be­tween 65 and 90 be­cause we did not ex­pect that our health care would pre­serve most of us to be still strong and lu­cid dur­ing that pe­riod. Health med­i­cal ad­vances have made us will­ing and able to still con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety.

The two most com­mon prob­lems now are de­men­tia or Alzheimer’s and Parkin­son’s (the shak­ing of hands in var­i­ous de­grees.) The more com­mon is the for­get­ful­ness of Alzheimer’s. We knew about this when we were young as “ulianin.” They were the old peo­ple who for­got things. At that time there were a few who lived to be old enough to be for­get­ful. Now they are many be­cause we live to be old in our eight­ies. We have rel­a­tives and friends who do not re­mem­ber what they did to what was en­trusted to them yes­ter­day or your name five min­utes ago. They have com­pletely no clue as to what hap­pened a few hours ago.

But now there are many reme­dies to al­time­ters. One of them is the tak­ing of the old com­mon reme­dies as co­conut oil which have been pro­cessed bet­ter into VCO or vir­gin co­conut oil (not pro­cessed through heat.) Co­conut oil has been shown to be a mir­a­cle oil with re­spect to brain pro­cesses. For a while other oil pro­ces­sors tried to down­grade it as a sat­u­rated oil but it has been shown that this is not harm­ful for hu­man health. Other veg­etable oils may be sources of bad choles­terol, which has been bad for the heart, but not co­conut oil.

In many or­ga­ni­za­tions, any­one above 65 or 70 is usu­ally no longer taken into con­sid­er­a­tion in the plan­ning. There is no log­i­cal rea­son for this ex­cept that they ex­pect them to die soon. They are afraid that they would make com­mit­ments for the or­ga­ni­za­tion and not be able to com­plete trans­ac­tions. They are afraid of debts and com­mit­ment which will not be ful­filled. But they still have an­other 25 years of re­spon­si­ble ser­vice to give. In many or­ga­ni­za­tions, they would like the six­tiers to move on. This is un­der­stand­able. They would like to have move­ment in the or­ga­ni­za­tional chart. In oth­ers they would be glad to have them stay. For those who would want the younger peo­ple to get a chance to show their wares, the oldies should have work planned out for them. ‘This is the pol­icy my friend has been talk­ing about. There should be a plan to move the peo­ple out and into some­thing maybe not as stren­u­ous but still as fruit­ful and able to com­pen­sate for their pay, even at a re­duced rate.

For those who re­tire, the first six months af­ter re­tire­ment are sea­sons for rest but also dan­ger­ous for their health. When peo­ple do not have to think about what has to be done for the next day, there is a lot of stress. Heart at­tacks and brain stroke are com­mon.

We have a re­source which has to be har­nessed for the good of all. I of­ten won­der at the waste of tal­ent and abil­i­ties when peo­ple die or are in­ca­pac­i­tated by dis­ease. Giv­ing re­tirees a sec­ond course in work can be good for them and for the com­mu­nity. What can we do then for the 65 to 90 year olds? How? We can at least try to rem­edy this op­por­tu­nity.

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