Growing old is neither depressing nor glorious. Throughout the world, elders experience pain and joy, rejection and fulfilment, anomie and purposefulness. Pakistan is no exception.
These observations were made by Professor James Sykes during his talk to a selected audience at the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan on Friday. “Fragility, pain, poverty and anxiety are some of the main issues elders feel,” he said while reflecting upon policies on aging and the repercussions of the anxiety and loneliness
Sykes, a retired professor from University of Wisconsin and an avid researcher, was invited to share his views and research on the major problems faced by older people in the region, such as poverty, healthcare services, shelter and transportation. After working in Pakistan for years, Prof Sykes bid farewell to his host country in the lecture.
The professor compared his findings on aging in five different nations, namely Cuba, China, Sweden, Pakistan and the United States. He compared contrasting environments to explain what bringing together societal values, individual vitality, policies and practices have meant to elders.
He remarked, “Those who live long are not a nation’s burden and, in fact, it is the duty of the society to take care of the elderly.”
In association with the Pakistan National Centre on Aging, Prof Sykes has researched various aspects of the older generation’s feelings of aloofness from society as age takes its toll on them.
Narrowing down his analysis to Pakistan, Prof Sykes commented, “I have learned that until Pakistan undertakes serious reform in taxing wealth and earnings and develop equitable systems for administering program, finger pointing and allegations will never end.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 02nd, 2011.