The International Day of Older Persons serves as a day to celebrate the positive contributions that older people make to society. It is also a painful reminder that they are often among the most neglected and marginalised in our society.
Isolation, illness and poverty contribute to the vulnerability of the elderly in our society. Winter months are particularly challenging, as many elderly people living alone are unable to afford heating bills on their pensions and become susceptible to illness. In the UK alone, 30,000 people die during the winter months as a direct result of the cold, and loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of illness.
Each year Muslim Aid provides winter items to the elderly throughout the world, including in the UK. We partner with churches, local organisations and other NGOs to distribute essential items to those in need. These items range from warm clothing and blankets, to kettles and hot water bottles, and serve as a life-line for those receiving them. Above all, it lets them know they are not forgotten.
On the International Day of Older Persons, spare a thought for the elderly in our society. Spend some time getting to know your elderly neighbour, or visit your grandparents. The elderly are deserving of our respect and care, and we should act as such.