Brian here, in Southampton, an associate lecturer at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity where we envision and equip Christians and their churches for whole-life missionary discipleship in the world, seek to serve them with biblical frameworks, practical resources, training and models so that they flourish as followers of Jesus and grow as whole-life disciplemaking communities. Hi.
The Care Quality Commission's recent report unearthed shocking levels of care among the elderly in English hospitals. It's the kind of thing that makes most of us very angry. There's a tendency to point fingers and scapegoat nurses for the deplorable way elderly patients are being treated.
Then I asked myself how many elderly people I knew. The answer was not many. Despite the increasing age of our society, I only really knew one elderly person and that was the old lady next door. I never help with her shopping or gardening. I rarely think about her, except when her TV is too loud.
There is no manual to learn kindness from. I realise now that I learned a lot these things from my grandparents, but that was at a time when generations tended to live closer together and had more interaction on a day to day basis. It never does harm to show more compassion. As a famous religious person put it, "The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better."
If we all show a little more care for the elderly then perhaps, when our time comes, there will be people who look out for us.
Be nice to old people. Hindus do.
When you're a child you are dependent on older people. When you're old, you are dependent on younger people. When you're neither too young nor too old, you aren't dependent on anyone, but you might want to consider looking after people who are too old or too young.
Hindus have multi-generational homes. This seems to work quite well. You might want to consider doing things the way Hindus do it because it seems to work so well. Don't be in such a rush to put mum and dad in a home. Hindus don't do that.
In one of the Hindu Big Books of Magic Stuff, there's a story of an old man who asks if one of his five sons will swap his infirmity for their youth. Four sons selfishly refused, but the fifth said yes, because without his father he wouldn't have a life to lead, and I believe his mother was also involved somewhere along the line.
Your parents gave you your invisible magic bit, so don't put them in a home. If you're really lucky, your own children, whom you gave their invisible magic bits, won't put you in a home either. Doing it this way is the Hindu way.