|Posted on April 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM|
Going through the daily newspapers today, I came across a murder that took place in Mohandeseen, Cairo. An elderly woman in her seventies was repeatedly stabbed by a worker at her ironing service (whom she knew quite well). The murderer climbed up her plumbing poles and went in through the bathroom window. He was busy stealing her jewelry, cash, and cell phones, when the old lady woke up. He strangled her, then stabbed her four times in the stomach and chest. I understand that murders happen everyday. But, murders involving elderly victims is on the rise in Egypt. Would this woman have been murdered had she lived in a Senior Citizen Home with the care and security to deter such heinous crimes?
Suffice it to say that when I googled the term "senior citizen homes in Egypt", I got the yellow pages of a city called Egypt in Texas, USA!! But, I am concerned about Senior Citizen Homes in The Arab Republic of Egypt. This term is so uncommon and may indeed be looked upon as a taboo or a disgrace to many Egyptian families that ponder the fate of their elderly loved ones. It is not common for close-knit Egyptian families to send their senior citizens "somewhere" to live out their final days. But there are times when sending an elderly family member to a Senior Citizen Home is a necessity, albeit a burden on the family members' pockets and conscience.
I don't believe that these "homes" should be a taboo in any sense of the word. Egypt's population will face a growing proportion of youth to senior citizens and we need to face this situation as there is a growing number of crimes being committed against the elderly who reside on their own. How many times in the recent past did you read about crimes of theft that are being committed against old men and women (by their own family members as well as strangers) because it was viewed that living on their own made these elderly an easy target, or more like a "sitting duck"? I am referring to the case that I described earlier as a mere case in point.
I totally understand if family members do not want to take the elderly family member in to live with them in an extended family structure, which is a financial burden nowadays on many nuclear families. But, I am totally against allowing these elderly to live alone and to become easy prey. If the elderly refuse to go to a Senior Citizen Home, then any living family member has to make sure that there's somebody trustworthy available to look after the old person. I believe that if we had efficient homes available, many senior citizens will feel better off conversing with other elderly citizens instead of succumbing to ill health and old age on their own.
Any future government must take into account that there is a growing need for Senior Citizen Homes in all governorates in Egypt, with particular attention to larger cities such as Cairo, Alexandria, and Tanta. Rural areas may still find the idea of leaving your elderly in the hands of strangers, to be against their culture and norms. If studies are made which show that there is no immediate need for such elderly care, then resources should be diverted into the cities which do need such elderly care. Businessmen and civil society NGO's can and should allocate some of their resources to this cause, whereas Human Rights groups as well as The Ministry of Health must ensure that nurses are trained in the field of Senior Citizen Care.
If we are talking about true democracy for Egypt, then it must be a democracy for ALL citizens, including the rights of the elderly to stay in affordable and health-caring environments that are secure, humane and dignified...
Categories: Towards a Functional Civil Society...