“One of the most important phases of maturing is that of growth from self-centring to an understanding relationship to others. A person is not mature until he has both an ability and a willingness to see himself as one among others and to do unto those others as he would have them do to him.”
– Harry A. Overstreet
Support groups are a unique and interesting concept for old age care that focuses on bonds we form while living in a community. People usually question me,
“Are Support groups that effective? What type of problems can be solved by being a member of a Support group?”
As humans, we often find it much easier to share our problems with people of the same age groups. The members of the support groups provide each other with a variety of suggestions to get each other through various day to day difficulties. Not only such groups make life easier, but they also provide some companionship and a sense of belongingness. The following are how Support groups are of extreme importance for old-age care. These groups bring together people who have had similar experiences in life.
1. Frail and Elderly, But Most Importantly Lonely
More than anything else, the elderly are extremely vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Social get-togethers are very important for their mental wellbeing. Their children choose to actively pursue their careers than spend a lot of time with their ageing parents. They become isolated for various reasons such as becoming older and weaker, retirement from their profession, death of spouses and friends of a similar age bracket, or maybe even due to a disability or an illness. Left alone and vulnerable they tend to fall into depression and a serious decline in their physical appearance. Those who are lonely often find it very difficult to reach out and seek help, sometimes due to inability, sometimes due to pride. Helping out the lonely, reaching out to the elderly is going to instil a sense of belongingness and provide them with a little companionship. It will allow the aged to interact with the community and slowly feel like a part of the community again.
2. Resources Shared
Members of the Support groups provide each other with knowledge, experience, emotional support, and practical help to one another. It involves a lot of mentoring, reflective listening. In simpler words, members provide each other with an attentive ear. They provide the support that helps them get through stressful situations, depression, and anxiety.
3. Changing Times
Traditionally senior citizens lived in joint families where they were safeguarded from the social and economic nuances of old age. However, with development, there has been a significant change in family dynamics. The very popular Nuclear family set up has exposed the elderly to a large number of problems and insecurities. As the younger adults abandon their roots for better opportunities, the elderly are left to fend for themselves. These groups allow the elderly to socialize and be a part of a group that feels like a family.
4. Health Issues
The elderly are do not have easy access to affordable medical facilities and resort to poor quality of care. Hence, when they need it the most, medical care is not available to them. This leaves them susceptible to chronic diseases. Support groups have proved to be beneficial for people with diabetes. Support from people who are also suffering from similar problems emotionally, physically, and practically can relieve some stress. These help groups can also support people who are suffering at the mercy of the popular and much-dreaded Cancer.
5. Avoid Abuse and Neglect
Senior Citizens spend a large amount of their time serving the best interest of their children. However, in a society driven by capitalistic lust for more wealth, children are often unwilling to go the extra mile to care for their parents and grandparents. Thus, a majority of the elderly are left to fend for themselves. Often youngsters abuse the elderly members of their family emotionally and physically to extract funds. Once this particular objective is fulfilled, they often abandon them. To the youngsters, their elderly requires care and time that they cannot spare despite that the abandoned people are a part of their family, their blood. Abuse of physical, emotional, and sexual nature all takes place in institutions like old age homes which were meant specifically for their welfare and protection. Support groups for seniors enable victims of abuse to heal mentally and emotionally. They fend for each other. The elderly have no longer the requirement to depend on youngsters and expose themselves to neglect and abuse.
6. Respect They Deserve
Having worked significantly for the benefit of others all their lives, our senior citizens deserve to be treated with respect and are entitled to an improved standard of living. At the end of the day, we are all humans, members of the same species. The members of a Support group for seniors treat each other with love, respect, and harmony they have craved all their lives and finally have some access to.
Support groups is the new age necessity for solving the previously stated issues. Many times, it happens that the seniors who have resources with them often doubt their capabilities to help others waiting for others to take action first. Now it’s the time to stop doubting your capabilities for helping others.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” –Mark Twain
Should there be more support groups for our countries’ senior citizens?
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