Sunday, August 31, 2014

IWHHR: Week 8 (Women and Aging)

During the summer of 2014, I am taking an online course in Global Health from Stanford University taught by Anne Firth Murray entitled, "International Women's Health and Human Rights" (IWHHR). I will be posting my reflective writing assignments from each week's course of study. All writings can be found under the tag IWHHRDetails on the course can be found here.
If you are interested in taking this or another course, you can find a listing of the online courses offered by Stanford here. From economics to cryptography, courses are added each semester.
Photo by S. Smith Patrick


Given that the number of people over the age of 65 is going to increase hugely in the next few decades (with women being in the majority), share your thoughts about how women’s lives may be affected by these demographic changes both for better and for worse.  Consider the situation in your own country.

Over the course of this online class, I have come to more fully appreciate the benefits I enjoy because I live in a developed country with vast resources available to me. I have realized that in my sphere, women are, by and large, well regarded and taken care of. As women age in my country, though I can see some of the negative factors of aging, I observe that most older women are being taken care of. It's certainly likely that in other communities within my country, aging women are not being cared for. But in my observation, aging women are often looked upon as ones who have a lot of wisdom, who have lived hard lives and are therefore deserving of our care and assistance.

Growing up in San Francisco, in our church ward twenty years ago, there were many LOLs, as we called them, Little Old Ladies. There were far more widowed and single older women than there were men, maybe even ten to one. This ratio could also be due to the fact that women tend to be more active, religiously speaking.

In the coming years, as we have learned in this unit, the number of older men and women will outnumber the number of young people. Because women tend to live longer than men, the number of older women will be even greater than ever before. These demographic changes, along with the lower fertility rate than in previous generations, will put a greater burden on the younger people to care for their elders and put older people at greater risk for being "forgotten" if you will.

As I mentioned earlier, my community and my family has historically taken care of its older generation, especially its women. With the upcoming demographic changes, I don't see any change in that. We seem to revere our mothers and grandmothers and do all in our power to ensure they are taken care of. This is true within my family, extended family and in my church. Special care and thought is given to the older women of our church. While we may not always does a great job, they are certainly not forgotten. It's possible that as the number of older women increase, so too will the awareness of their needs and therefore, the service rendered to them.

Living in a developed nation, and a caring community, I fully acknowledge the experience could likely be different in other communities and nations. But I think awareness and instilling love for our families can change the situation. If we love our mothers and honor the role they have played in bringing us into the world and teaching us how to be, then we will naturally turn our hearts to them, and to the women (and men) have have gone before us and plowed the earth, so to speak, to make way for us, their children, to enjoy countless blessings and reap the benefits of their hard work. It's a cycle because we then will do the same our children and those to come.

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