Show That You Care
By Awake! correspondent in Canada
Private anguish among many seniors in Canada is driving them to suicide at an alarming rate. A report in the Vancouver Sun newspaper notes that while 1 out of 200 suicide attempts by young people ends in death, the ratio is 1 out of 4 for those over 65. And it is believed that there is even an “under-reporting of suicide among the elderly, because it can be difficult to distinguish from natural causes in seniors with serious health problems.”
Why is it that many of the elderly lose the will to live? University of British Columbia psychiatrist Oluwafemi Agbayewa, an expert on the issue of suicide among seniors, points to depression, social isolation, and loneliness as contributing factors. Gerry Harrington, the director of the Suicide Information and Education Centre in Calgary, Alberta, notes that as people age, they “lose their respect, their power, their control. . . . All of a sudden, no one asks for their opinions anymore. Too many people end up in nursing homes with nothing to do but sit and play cards and watch TV.” Compounding this feeling is the fact that society places a high value on youth as well as on independence, productivity, and speed—the very traits that diminish as one ages.
In the eyes of Jehovah God, however, the elderly are highly valued. Evidence that he keenly understands their emotional needs can be seen in his command to the people of ancient Israel: “Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man, and you must be in fear of your God.”—Leviticus 19:32.
So, then, how can we “show consideration” for the elderly? Although words of wisdom may not constantly flow from their lips and their imperfections may be magnified by old age, they merit our respect. Show that you care. Accord them dignity, honor, and recognition by drawing on their insight and wisdom, especially when their life has been guided by God’s spirit and an accurate understanding of his Word.
There is much more that God’s Word teaches on the subject of caring for and honoring the elderly. For more information, please write to the publishers of this journal and ask for the book The Secret of Family Happiness.