Monday 26 September 2016

Our elderly deserve much better than the way we treat them

Published 13/06/2015 | 02:30

"We now, more than ever, need to take stock of our relationship with the elderly population"

We have seen in recent years how some of our elderly have been treated so appallingly in some homes and establishments, and indeed recently in some of our hospitals, where they have been left to languish for hours.

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We have also seen how some governments have tried to slash the old age pension and medical card schemes. Some elderly people that I know say they feel ignored, under-valued and disrespected. This is a very sad commentary on our modern world.

Our society tends to be obsessed with ideas of newness, youth and progress. Scientific studies tell us how to do everything, from the way we raise our children to what we need to eat for breakfast.

We now, more than ever, need to take stock of our relationship with the elderly population. Here is a thought-provoking story that will hopefully make you really care for our elderly and for our loved ones, 'The Wooden Bowl'.

A frail, old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together nightly at the dinner table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped his glass, milk often spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

"We must do something about grandfather," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor." So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed meals at the dinner table. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

Sometimes when the family glanced in grandfather's direction, he had a tear in his eye as he ate alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?"

Just as sweetly, the boy said, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and mammy to eat your food from when I grow up."

Ronan Scully

Knocknacarra, Galway

Climate change and farming

Imagine Dr Chris Field - a leading member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - announcing: "The agricultural sector was among the main drivers of dangerous climate change." Agriculture, the most natural thing on earth!

He was among 60 global experts on climate change that met in Dublin recently (Irish Independent, June 8). "Agriculture makes up more than 29pc of all our emissions" and the big challenge for a country like Ireland is to "increase agricultural yields at the same time as decreasing greenhouse gas emissions", he said.

With quotas ended and farmers endeavouring to extend their herds, what do those climate moguls expect - are landowners supposed to equip their animals with 'cattlelyptic converters', or some other new-fangled technical exhaust system, from the extra few bob earned?

The world was blotted with billions of animals and bird-life since time immemorial and still went on. Why the sudden flurry when Ireland attempts to get into a few extra cows - will the ozone layers go on fire?

James Gleeson

Thurles, Co Tipperary

History repeating itself

There is a certain belief out there that history moves in circles. We here in Ireland know all too well what it is like. The Troubles that plagued the North for 30 years was just a retelling of the conflict that had plagued our land for 300 years. What started on the banks of the Boyne in 1690 continued with the setting-up of the "Protestant Ascendancy", the Orange Order and the penal laws, and ended with the Good Friday Agreement. But trouble rumbles on in the North. Who knows? Maybe we haven't seen the last of the fighting.

The repetition of history seems to be happening too as US President Barack Obama makes another increase to the numbers of troops in Iraq to help the locals fight Isil. I see the parallels between this conflict and another 50 years ago in a jungle in South East Asia. Here too the US kept increasing the amount of military "advisers" sent to a tottering local regime to fight an enemy with a hard anti-Western ideology.

Russia too is experiencing the painful cycle of history. Its obsession with what they call 'the Near Abroad' leads them into the same wars over the same territory again and again.

Which brings me to the final example: Greece. The woes of this state are nothing new to us. Neither are the doom-ridden messages that Greece, if mismanaged, will spell disaster for Europe. The fact is that 100 years ago the Balkans was just as dangerous to the health of Europe with its instability.

What is to be learned from history? At worst, it can stop us trying anything new. At best, it's a predictor of future problems. Let's hope we can lean to the latter.

Colin Smith

Clara, Co Offaly

Human rights for all

In her article (Irish Independent, June 9) Colette Browne shows an admirable passion for human rights, but goes completely off the rails when it comes to what she calls "Ireland's draconian abortion regime". For a true vindication of human rights, above all the right to life must be supported. To exclude one group (the living unborn) damages the cause of human rights hugely. At this time, Ireland has the opportunity to pursue a consistent and inclusive human rights ethos that embraces all, and if that means standing up against campaigners, local and international, who would countenance the deaths of innocent unborn children, so be it.

But I fear our public representatives will respond to whichever way the wind is blowing and end up embarrassed by the fact we value all human lives equally.

Brendan O'Regan

Arklow, Co Wicklow

FAI's missed opportunity

Shame on the FAI. Given their demonstrated skills in the loan forgiveness area, why they didn't offer to advise the Government during its painful negotiations with the Troika is something I'll never understand.

For had they done so, the FAI surely would have been able to secure a much better deal for this country, whereby in exchange for forgiveness of many of our debts and loans, we could have simply offered all those football nations in the Troika a cast-iron guarantee that Ireland would, for a mutually agreed period, turn a blind eye to future blatant handballs, off-sides, and even the odd murder of any of our players by their teams.

Never before could so few have done so much for so many in our country's hour of need. But they never even turned up for the game.

Shame, shame, shame on the FAI.

Ivor Shorts

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Irish Independent

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