International Day of Older People
Author: Helen Man
Translator: Kim Ng
The United Nations General Assembly established October 1 as the International Day of Older People which was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991. The holiday is to raise our awareness about the elderly’s well-being. The aging population in the world has been increasing rapidly. In 2016, 8.5% of our population, 617 million people, were in the age of 65 or older. In 2020, this age group has increased to 9.3% of our population with 727 million people.
In 2021, 16.5% of the 328 million people, or 54 million people, were over the age of 65 in the United States. By 2020, 190 million people were 65 years old, representing 13.5% of China’s total population. The world population of elderly people is expected to exceed more than 1.5 billion by 2050.
The Golden Age
As we get older, we might experience changes and challenges. We might not look as young as before. We might become forgetful more often. From a pessimistic point of view, some may see it as a sad downhill approaching the end of life. From an optimistic point of view, some see the latter days as a golden age in which we have accumulated a lot of knowledge, skills and wisdom from decades of life journey and we shine brightly with golden beams. The latter days may be short, though that still can be the golden and the shiniest moment of our lives.
Some people say that we must first have good health to live a happy life in our older age. Then we must have a life partner, old friends, and enough savings. I wonder if these are truly enough for a good old life and if they are really a must-have. I know that in this ever-changing world, we don’t know about tomorrow. What if our partner passes away suddenly and leaves us alone? What if our life savings come short for whatever situation that may just occur? Even if I just play hard every day in the last chapter of my life, will I really feel fulfilled and joyful? I believe the must-have in our old age is peace, joy, and hope, and that can only come from Christ Jesus who has given me the promise of eternal life. In John 3:36, God has promised that “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Fortunately, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Some people believe that some religious figures, Shakyamuni Buddha, Muhammad of Islam and the like, can save them. However, none of these figures can escape death but Jesus. How can they save you if they cannot save their own lives?
As Jesus has risen from the dead and has given eternal life to whoever believes in him, we know that we can follow Jesus and will reunite with God into eternity at the end of our earthly life. Therefore, death is not a fearful thing, but the beginning of eternal life. We can enjoy peace in our latter days towards death. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Jesus is the Foundation in our Golden Age
God says: “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm 92:14). As we follow Jesus dearly and daily, we remain productive and fruitful even when we are old. We will be joyful and feel fulfilled if we follow God and become wise because of HIM.
Be Wise and Kind
By God’s Grace, let’s learn to forgive and forget and don’t cry over spilt milk. We can count our blessings for all those years, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Being kind and forgiving is surely a wise and lovely senior.
Use Time Wisely
As seniors, we can make use of our free time to participate in church and community activities, whether as volunteers in the community or simply sharing the gospel with others. We can even learn some new skills and discover some fun hobbies such as using computers and planting.
Use Savings Wisely
From time to time, we hear that some elderly’s savings are targeted by criminals. We can choose to be wise and trust in God, so we keep ourselves away from the temptation of greed, avoiding aggressive investments or unlawful actions. Some old people lose their lifetime savings even to their own children because they have transferred their assets to them in order to claim government aid.
Whether old or young, it is always good to keep our daily routines in check. Eating appropriately, sleeping properly and exercising regularly are always the golden rules of a happy life. We can always pray and ask God to guide us.
Trust In God Always
Elderly people need to see doctors more often for problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes. We take more medications as we age. It is wise to trust in God that everything is in HIS hands, so we have the courage to seek proper medical help. Always follow doctors’ directions and not to increase or reduce medications without consulting doctors.
Be Happy, Living Alone or with Family
Whether living alone or with family at old age, it is God’s grace that HE provides for us. It is a blessing that we can live alone without help. It is also a blessing if we live with our children and family. I believe it is wise that we give our children breathing room and growing space. We can pray to God for our children and grandchildren that they follow God’s guidance and let them own their lives on their own terms. Sometimes, we might have a strong opinion based on our life experience. While we may express our opinion, we do not need to insist. Trust them as long as they follow Jesus. I also believe it is not necessary to be angry if our children cannot take care of us or live with us when we get old or sick. We may ask them to visit us often and remind them that the Bible teaches us to honor our father and mother. By God’s grace, we are full of joy, peace, and hope even at our golden age walking to the last chapter of our lives on earth.
Children are blessed as they honor their elderly parents: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)