We must become the change…
The senior citizen represents value... potential... experience... capital... In the context of my legal practice, I have always said that experience is something that you can’t get from any book, but which is of paramount importance in our work and, indeed, our life. As it turns out, this basic truth has much bearing as we talk about senior citizens.
Our later years, the autumns of our lives – these are not legal terms, not by any stretch. But – as a lawyer, and simply as a human being – I would like to see this time of experience and of accumulated knowledge as an august one, as a time of peace and sun. If this is to be, change is needed. Digital exclusion, the paradox of the fourth floor, difficulty with access to healthcare, and the general lack of patience and empathy on the part of society at large conspire to make what ought to be a sunny autumn into a cold, hard winter. And, again, from the legal and the human perspective, this should be the summer !
Is the legal system as it now is sufficient, or is change called for ? Do the norms of legal protection now in place serve their purpose ? And do they merely protect – what about facilitating, proactively supporting, and generally improving the lives of our senior fellow citizens ?
The future must be one of e-medicine and e-prescriptions, of seniors being welcomed into the world of technology. Social exclusion and the autumn-of-life theory are not only the bane of senior citizens and their loved ones, but also entail ballooning costs for the state, measured in actual outlays as well as in lost economic and business opportunities. Is it inappropriate to talk about business here ? No, by no means – provided that business makes life better for our senior citizens.
Applicable laws need to evolve. Basic legal protections for senior citizens are no longer enough; what we need are changes which not only keep up with technological progress, but actually inspire it. Societies are ageing; at the same time, the world is changing and will continue to do so. Technologies bring potential, and the law must develop apace; if we fail on this basic point, exclusion will become more of a problem.
So, to summarise: work on overarching concepts and specific solutions of the law as it pertains to senior citizens ? Yes. Analysis of the changing world so that we may assure senior citizens of a comfortable place within it ? Yes. Involving seniors in the lives of the youngest family members ? Yes. The senior as mentor, the child as a guide to the hyper connected world of modern technology ? Yes. And all this within thoughtfully devised laws. Laws pertaining to senior citizens must be as complex and dynamic as life itself.
All of us may well live on to become senior citizens. So, as M. Gandhi used to say, “be the change that you wish to see in the world".