These days, economic, social, political and technological developments have drastically changed human life expectancy. The technological progressions in medicine and public sanitation have made great improvements to human health, so the average human lifespan has increased. However, according to nature, the human body must eventually break down. It’s the unavoidable. Before we reach the elderly stage, which is the last stage of our life, we should prepare to accept and adapt to it, with an open mind and a happy heart.
In 1982 the United Nations Organization held a world general assembly about the the state of the elderly at Vienna, Austria. There it was officially stated that an “elderly person” is any person, male or female, over the age of sixty. Besides this, the three main issues that were discussed concerning the elderly were humanization, development and education.
In Thailand, the government cabinet of General Prem Tinsulanonda acknowledged the importance of the elderly in society and speculated the many problems this particular group may face. Resolutions were passed on December 14, 1982 and it was decided that April 13 would be made the official, annual Elderly Day. Also, the white cheesewood flower was selected to be the official symbol of the elderly. This particular flower was chosen because the white cheesewood tree is perennial, evergreen and aromatic, so, in a way, it’s similar to the elderly person who by living a decent moral life, becomes a role model for next generation.
It would be to our benefit to learn and acknowledge all the legal rights of the elderly and to familiarize ourselves with the Senior Adults Act of 2003. Section 11 of this act lays out the rights of the elderly, some of which are stated below.
1. Health care and public medical services should be conveniently provided for them.
2. They should be given education; religious freedom and instruction; and all the useful, necessary information they need to live a decent life.
3. To encourage them in maintaining and carrying out their respective career(s).
4. Social activities for the elderly should be established and maintained.
5. To look after their public safety and social wellbeing.
6. Assisting them with vehicle transportation as needed.
7. To reduce the price of admission to national attractions for them.
8. Providing assistance to the forsaken and abused elderly.
9. Providing legal advice and counsel when needed.
10. Providing necessary accommodation, food and clothing as needed.
11. Providing general housing allowance, as necessary.
12. Providing aid for funeral arrangements according to the deceased’s religious beliefs and traditions.
And these are just some of the rights set forth by the Senior Adults Act of 2003.
If we take the time to learn and understand the social rights and benefits of the elderly, then we will be able to make use of them ourselves. Both with the elderly in our own families and with ourselves, when we become “the elderly.”