Cuizon: Aging fairly

HOW many of the senior citizens appreciate the rules and enactments of the laws caring for people in age 60 or 65, and over?

We’re not Switzerland, the top country in the Global AgeWatch’s research, with the U.S. only among the top 10. The report has been based on the country's senior citizens program, including income security and health, among others.

On the rights of the elderly in the Philippines, I feel good when I don’t have to trail with weak knees a long line to public services, like to tellers and service centers in banks, government offices, malls and other services. And this is with thanks to the government, especially to leaders in the legislative level who pass laws on the recognition and protection of the rights of the elderly or who update the laws to add more insight to Senior Citizens rights.

The benefits are more than the 20-percent discount on services, such as medical services, transport, hotels, restaurants, theaters services. There are more senior citizens concerns for government to recognize. And so far in time, there will be more senior citizens to deal with than their number now.

The growth of elderly population in the country is faster than in the past few years. The 4.6 million count of senior citizens in year 2000 grew to 6.5 million ten years after. In a Best Countries for Older Adults survey of 96 states, the Philippines is the 50th best. The best country for seniors, Switzerland, bases its senior rights programs on an “enabling environment,” including physical safety of senior citizens.

Republic Act 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, took effect in February 2010, updating the concerns of senior citizens acts in the Philippines.

When I turned 60, it was odd hearing cab drivers address me “madir, madir” (mother), adding a helpful “amping ka” (careful now) as I stepped out (or into) a taxi cab. And the World Health Organization, looking after the health of seniors, refers to this time in a man’s life as “active aging.”

Now in my deep senior years, a cab driver with me as passenger stopped at my destination, quickly got out of the driver’s seat and rushed to my side of the cab to help me step out and climb a stairway with three steps. I told him I was all right, I could do the short climb, he was stopping in a no-stopping area. But he quickly said, “Wa na sa gard, maam, senior man ka!”

In a line for a cab in the mall, the tail-end of the long line, the fellow in the last line said, “Senior ka, maam, ngadto, mag-una ka,” he said, looking good for being helpful.

Some aspects of the senior citizens laws are accepted by most of the younger public even as many of them would perhaps thank God that they are younger than the oldies. So in these days, I find myself also in line with others of the elderly citizens in service stations.

In medical centers and pharmacies, I keep being reminded of the fact that the population of the elderly is growing fast in this country and they stay stronger. A week ago, I waited for my turn to be served at a Mercury drug store, turned to my side in the line and listened to a senior who proudly told me her age. The 88-year-old woman moved and talked like a person who was as young as a college mate.

Republic Act 7876, which is about putting up a Senior Citizens Center in cities and towns, has been passed to cater to the elderly’s need of still connecting with the community. The center will be set up by DSWD with other agencies coordinating. This would include the services on health and personal care.

When the centers are put up in some cities and towns, the rural senior could preserve his health and inner well-being. The 92-year-old grandfather of my house helper will stop magsag-ob og tubig and manginhas. There’s hope in life beyond 60.

(ecuizon@gmail.com)

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