Kill old people
Corona: Why do many people care when old people die?
Just three weeks later, the coronavirus turned our lives completely upside down. And while on the one hand we should stay at home as much as possible, on the other hand voices from politics and society are getting louder to prepare an exit plan so that our economy does not collapse completely due to the virus. It is at such moments that I think of my late mother. Why? Because she was the victim of neglect and abuse before she died - and in my opinion, the thoughts of many about the situation and our older fellow citizens also go in this direction.
My mother was a mentally ill and widowed immigrant from India. When she died at the age of 69, my relationship with her was very strained. Because of her illness, my childhood was pretty chaotic. My mother was unpredictable and even violent at times. And she heard voices. I don't know what illness she had, because she refused any kind of help - as she got older and more vulnerable, this attitude ultimately led to her death.
In her late 60s, my mother lived with my aunt in the Indian city of Calcutta. Whenever I asked about my mother, my aunt would say she is fine and taking care of her. But the truth was different: My aunt gave my mother sedatives and later claimed that she wanted to use them to alleviate her mental health problems. The sedatives kept my mother sleeping for hours. Apparently she was also diagnosed with Parkinson's and the sleeping pills made her bones more fragile. With the money my aunt withdrew from my mother's bank accounts, she went on weekend trips and just left my mother to sleep alone in her own urine and feces. When I found her, she was practically dead. She could hardly breathe and was sore; the spot was the size of a dinner plate and was torn deep into her body so that I could see parts of her parched spine. My mother died on March 16, 2016.
Her story is a very extreme example of the abuse that old people are subjected to. Unfortunately, I learned of their circumstances too late to be able to do anything; sometimes I wonder if I am as responsible for her death as my aunt.
I know that there are many more old people who are left to their own fate right now. It was like this before the virus. We liked to ignore the fact that an entire generation is victims of abuse and neglect. Because that's easier than making it our problem. We just drop the old people off in a nursing home - far away from our everyday lives - then we don't have to take care of them.
We are in the middle of a global pandemic, facing a disease that is disproportionately killing people over the age of 65. And even if many of us stay at home in an exemplary manner, some have still not understood (or do not want to understand) that they endanger our older population with their parties and group meetings in parks. They don't want to isolate themselves because they don't care if some old people die. That is abuse and neglect of the elderly. I can see that in the comments under the statistics about new death tolls. People are afraid of death. And old people remind us that at some point we will all die. Maybe young people react so ignorantly out of fear. Perhaps it is this fear that has driven them in restaurants and bars. Maybe she is the reason why we had to close everything and put contact restrictions in place. But we cannot be guided by fear; not when so many lives are at stake.
And with the example of Italy, we know what will happen if our hospitals run out of capacity: Doctors will have to decide who will keep them alive and who will be left to his or her fate. And they'd rather save the boys' lives. My thoughts are with the elderly in homes who are as defenseless as children. People with dementia who don't really understand what's going on around them. I remember my mentally ill mother who might still be alive if my aunt had taken care of her. I wonder what my mother thought and felt when she was dying alone. Because of the contact restrictions, many can no longer visit their parents and grandparents - and they are often alone and lonely.
In Germany, the death toll has risen to over 1,000 (as of April 3). And only slowly does it become clear to everyone that everyone can get sick from it and die from the consequences. Nonetheless, the statistics focus on the elderly and people with previous illnesses. And of course we should all be happy that children are rarely affected, but we must not forget that some of them will soon have to grow up without grandparents.
But even if the virus is making it clear to us more than ever how badly we are in our society with the right care for the elderly, we actually all know that neglect and abuse of senior citizens was a problem even before the pandemic. For example, the World Health Organization assumes that 15.7 percent of people over the age of 65 will be victims of abuse.
I wonder to what extent the way we deal with the coronavirus will affect WHO statistics. Isn't it already a kind of verbal violence when it is said again and again that “only” old people die from it? Aren't we complicit when we share such statistics on social media? Are the lives of the elderly worth less than ours?
We should keep in mind that hopefully at some point we will all come to the age of those we are so inhumanly treating. And we will raise a new generation that has learned from us not to take care of old people.
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