I am writing this sitting in my favourite restaurant in Granada, Nicaragua, The Garden Café, I’m having breakfast, a strawberry smoothie, coconut French toast, fruit bowl, and coffee (the best).
In the last week I have been thinking about aging and the different ways the senior population are treated around the world! (Seen through my eyes).
First of all in North America, we have senior homes etc., some are very posh, but the reason I am working on the concept of Betty’s Mountain Top is because of what I have seen in Canada. What happened to my Mother, having spent time in many hospitals, nursing homes, and how she and us, at that time I was married with 2 young children dealt with it all.
My memory is of obligation of going every Sunday afternoon, and trying to keep Jody and Julie quiet in a small space, she loved seeing the kids, they called her Nana. I remember how few visitors the other patients had. Yet all through my Mother’s various health issues, 2 factors always seemed to be the same, the loneliness and not feeling valued. I always felt that in many cases people were just waiting to die.
What I think is so important is that people are valued and that as they age, they can still contribute to society in some way, also respect is another word I would use. Most of the seniors I have met have a tremendous knowledge base, but I tell them that they must stay CURIOUS and, OPEN to themselves and about the world, plus stay VITAL enough to share their knowledge!!
As I write this I have left Granada with a driver to travel for 2 hours to the coffee capital of Nicaragua to speak with NGO employees, that work with poor people, on topics including attitude, happiness, and empowerment, with an American translator, I hope, or I am in big trouble!! I love doing this stuff!! I am spending the night on a coffee plantation in the mountains; this coffee plantation has one client, Whole Foods, in North American.
In many parts of the world, aging people live with children or other relatives, depending on the relationship; they can have a vital life with family, or terrible and just stay in their room!
European’s seem to value aging family member’s more than we do in North America, they still seem to have active role and a say in day-to-day family life.
In Nicaragua, and I am sure rest of Central America and South America, a lot of military men that have served in Iraq and elsewhere etc., live here, marry young women and they are looked after very well for the rest of their lives. On the streets you will see youngish women pushing wheel chairs with old Americans in them.
In Penang, Malaysia and Mauritius the older person is very valued as part of society. Yes, I have to bring up India, older people are part of family and are usually helping to bring up kids, doing the cooking etc., and the younger members of the family usually go to them for advice, when they have to make decision.
Spiritual groups also seem to value the older person in a very loving way. I have seen this with the BKs (Brahma Kumaris), many times over!
I have met many aging people on my travels, two that leap to my mind, grandmothers in Africa looking after grandchildren, because of AIDS!
And the bare breasted grandmothers in Borneo running the kitchens of the long houses, bossing everyone around, in charge of meals for 30 to 40 people.
So, these are just my random thoughts on what I have seen around the world.
Would love your comments!!