It’s International Day for the Elderly – a day dedicated to honouring and caring for elderly people.
One of life’s greatest gift is having the elderly amongst us. Like Lailah Gify Akita once said, “the glory of the elderly is their insight to life.”
But sadly, as people age, they might sometimes experience a decline in physical and mental vitality. This can lead to them feeling neglected and unappreciated. But it’s important for us to give love and care to them and show them they matter.
We spoke to Joseph Mmoledi, a man who has devoted his life to caring for the elderly. Mmoledi has been running the Tshepang Victim Support Centre, an old age home in the rural area of Madidi, North-West, since 2004. He believes caring for the elderly is his calling.
“I used to go around the village, going house to house visiting the elderly. We (with his wife) would be shocked at what we would find in the homes. Many of the elderly people were neglected and were suffering. Some had no pills and no food,” says Mmoledi.
“In other homes, you would find that the elders are not even encouraged to stay inside the house. Some were not even bathed and at some homes you would find that they threw food at them. You would sometimes find food that was left for days which had ants and cockroaches, sitting next to the elder’s bed. It was so heart-breaking.”
Mmoledi says because of what he witnessed, his compassion for the elderly propelled him to start helping them.
“Some of them didn’t have ID’s and were not receiving their grants. I started engaging with social workers and all the relevant people, and we helped them get ID’s and their grants. I would also go to clinics and get them their medication. ”
Mmoledi says some of the social workers and elderly people he helped encouraged him to start a shelter for them.
“After praying, I realised this was indeed something I was supposed to do. There has never been in a day in the 14 years that we have been running this, that we had no food to feed them. We give them fresh food and even bath them and take care of their other needs,” says Mmoledi.
“I show them respect and give them love, and the surprising thing is they also respect me. They all call me “ntate” (father), even though I am younger than them,” he adds.
Mmoledi says caring for the elderly has given him great joy.
“It gives me great joy because I am giving love to people who I don’t necessarily know. They come as strangers to our home, but we embrace them and show them love and care. Because I am also a pastor, I also share the word of God with them every day and their lives change for the better.”
He says the secret to caring for the elderly is to show them love and respect.
“They need love, respect and care, that’s what I’ve learned from all the elderly. When they get those three things, they also return the love,” says Mmoledi.
This International Day for The Elderly, Mmoledi says people can show their appreciation for the elderly by making them feel special.
“Clean for them, make a nice meal for them, give them a massage, sing for them. Whatever thing you know will make them happy, do it. But, above all love them and respect them. Make them feel they matter,” concludes Mmoledi.