The imperative to honor our elders has taken on particular relevance in this time of pandemic because older people are particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. How might this value shape our decisions as individuals and as community leaders? How will the decisions we make elevate the social status of older people? How will we invest resources in their well-being?
Geriatric psychiatrist Debanjen Banerjee warns that the physical and psycho-social health of senior citizens warrants urgent attention, now more than ever before, since the elderly are at a unique risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Banerjee suggests ten ways to keep the elderly disease-free, spirited and mentally fit.
“The seniors might be vulnerable and frail due to age, but they are not weak. Their resilience can be amazing, if adequately cared for, and we can all borrow from their strengths. Albert Camus’ famous line “The old can go through every plague” should guide us to hold our elderly together, integrating them into our struggle and recovery as we live through these troubled times. That will truly indicate the social evolution of our civilisation.”
Rabbi Shai Held, dean of Jewish thought at Hadar, warns us that a global pandemic does not give us cause to treat the aged callously. The author decries the treatment of old people as disposable, reminding us of the biblical mandate to “honor your father and mother.”
“From a religious perspective, if there is one thing we ought to teach our children, it is that our worth as human beings does not depend on or derive from what we do or accomplish or produce; we are, each of us, infinitely valuable just because we are created in the image of God. We mattered before we were old enough to be economically productive, and we will go on mattering even after we cease to be economically productive.”