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Remember the elderly this Christmas

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21.DEC.07

Last year, the staff at Searchlight pledged to reach out each Christmas to a needy person or family in the spirit of love and goodwill that should characterize this season. This year, freelance reporter Adrian “Tari” Codogan identified Amanda Clementina Edwards of Chateaubelair, who celebrates her 99th birthday on Christmas Day.{{more}}

What our staff is doing is not unlike what other companies and individuals do at this time of the year, if at no other time. When Tari suggested Miss Edwards, the staff jumped at the idea, as the elderly among us constitute most definitely the demographic that is most disadvantaged in our society.

While giving handouts at Christmas and other times is commendable, what the elderly need more is our attention. Too many of them feel irrelevant and powerless at this time of their lives, which is supposed to be golden. How much of a difference we could make if we made more time, all year round, to visit, chat with, and show acts of concern to our parents, grandparents, and other older persons in our community who impacted positively on us when we were growing up.

We very often boast that we are a Christian society, but to be honest, are we really? The increasing intolerance and selfishness, which is manifesting itself in our society, is certainly worrying. There are tales of senior citizens being abused by family members, as well as strangers, once they begin to slow down and can no longer contribute to the home and be as assertive and independent as they once were. A few weeks ago, we reported on the heartbreaking situation of the increasing number of elderly patients who have been abandoned at our hospital.

Certainly, caring for our aging relatives can be a drain emotionally, physically, and sometimes financially. And for many, the easiest way to escape the stress of witnessing our elders decline is to distance ourselves from them. But we should not, cannot, allow this creeping uncaring attitude of ingratitude to take root.

James, the brother of Jesus, in Chapter 1 verses 26-27 of his Epistle, admonishes us as good Christians to lend a helping hand to the vulnerable among us: the widows and the fatherless, and certainly, the elderly. James must have been taught these principles by the Good Lord himself.

The plight of our elderly should also be a wake up call to those still in good health and in the active workforce. Are we planning adequately for our retirement? This means preparing not only financially, but also taking care of our health today, to lessen our chances that the quality of our life in later years would be compromised by lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

So this Christmas, we make a special appeal for the elderly. Many of the blessings we now enjoy were built on the foundation of their sweat and sacrifice. Let our interaction with them not be just out of obligation, but done with true love, gratitude and understanding, reflecting true Christianity. Happy Christmas, everyone.

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