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Posted on: 19 Apr 2012 Tagged by:

old-and-young-hands-elderly-care

A report by Which? last month labelled the care of elderly people in their homes as “shocking and disgraceful”. There was evidence of food being left out of reach and of missed visits by carers. This report is just one of many that have continuously dominated the headlines with little action being taken to address concerns highlighted. Last year, a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission stated that there was evidence of “systematic failures” and unmonitored “ageism” within the care system. Moreover, a report by Care Quality Commission reported in 2011 that more than half of hospitals in England were failing to meet key standards of dignity and nutrition in the care of elderly people.

This should be something that worries and concerns us all. According to government statistics over the period 1985-2010, the number of people aged 65 and over in the UK increased by 20 per cent; and in 2010, 17 per cent of the population were aged 65 and over. The number of people aged 85 and over more than doubled over the same period to 1.4 million, and the percentage aged under 16 fell from 21 per cent to 19 per cent. However, it is worthwhile to note that Muslims are the youngest faith group in the UK, which perhaps makes us better placed to contribute to addressing the care of the elderly which is in serious neglect.

Islam encourages care and compassion towards all of the creations of God, whether that be to plants, animals and even inanimate objects. So what can we say of the elderly population who have served society, paid taxes and given so much in their youth, only be marginalised and deemed insignificant in their old age?

Age UK have recently launched a campaign called “Care in Crisis” to draw attention to what truly is a crisis in care, and as Muslims, we should be at the forefront of championing the rights of those who are downtrodden. Islam came to liberate all who had been neglected and mistreated in society, and the Prophet Muhammad was sent as a “mercy to all the worlds” (Qur‘an). Age UK are calling on the government to urgently reform the care system since too many people in later life are being badly let down by poor quality care and support.

The Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not one of us, who does not show mercy to our young ones and does not respect our old ones” (Tirmidhī). Thus, given that we are a relatively young population and there is such a gap in care and dignity of the elderly, there are many things young Muslims can do address this gap.

1.                   Charity starts at home. If you are fortunate enough to have your parents in your life and they reach their mature years and need your support, then you should reach your hand out to them willingly, remembering the sacrifices they made for you when you were young. Indeed, the Qur’an commands: “Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents.” (Qur’an)

2.                   Many elderly people are have health issues it is also worthwhile remembering that visiting the sick is also greatly encouraged in Islam. Perhaps you could set up a weekly rota between you and friends to visit or cook for elderly people that live locally to you. This would also mean that you are preserving the rights of your neighbours, which is something Islam and all the Abrahamic faiths call to.

3.                   Educate yourself on the current crisis by visiting www.ageuk.org.uk and sign the petition calling for care reform before the deadline at the end of May 2012.

4.                   Volunteer with Age UK. Volunteer in one of their retail shops, or befriend a local person. There are countless opportunities to be found on Age UK’s website.

We must remember that old age and the need for support is likely to affect us all in our mature ages. Advances in medicine and health should mean a better quality of life, and yet many people have only a life of loneliness and poverty to look forward to, as they struggle to make ends meet with family living far, and the cost of care continuously on the rise. Elderly people should be celebrated for their achievements and their life experiences should be promoted as a source of inspiration to upcoming generations. The government must do its duty towards this generation who has served the country, contributed to the economy and made the UK the place it is today. Do your bit for them, and sign Age UK’s petition. Make some noise and stand up for something that matters.

 

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