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STEPPING INTO THE FUTURE Talent, Contribution and Participation of Older Persons in Society

How do you see yourself in the next year or ten? …is a question often asked and sought from young people, but a question rarely asked for those in their sunset years.

We often take for granted the real value of time… caught in the rush of achieving and accumulating things, and in that rush we often leave behind people who matter the most to us. Loneliness is fast becoming synonymous with aging. Seniors are often left behind to contemplate on the past, to make do with memories, to live a silent life.

As part of Bihani Social Venture’s initiatives, there are several platforms for elders to come to the forefront such as Youth Elder Speak (YES), Learning From Mistakes (LFM), and Elders as Change Agents (ECA among many other interactive sessions which aim to bridge this gap. Bihani seeks create opportunities for elders to re-engage, re-explore and re-live during the second half of their lives based on past experiences, creating a pool of experts while valuing their talents, contribution and participation as active member of society.

The changing population

By year 2050, the current population of older persons aged 60 and above comprising 900 million (15%) is projected to reach 2 billion (22%) of the total global population. And the reality is – we will soon be part of that demography. With technological leap, we are gradually forgetting that we are humans first. Because of modern robotic and materialistic life, it has now become eminent for us to learn forgotten skills, knowledge and history from our elders in every sphere of life. What good would it be, if you know the entire world but forget your own being?

Elders as Change Agents

In Nepal, when we think of experts, we have people coming from all over the world in many fields. But we often forget the huge resource pool of experts that we have amidst us – our elders. We have so many inspiring individuals with in-depth knowledge but because they are retired and progressing in their years, we fail to seek their help.

Ageing with dignity

Creating a platform where an elder can use his/her talent and experience is an honour for them. Bihani envisions elders to be part of the significant change the country is going through by active engagement and participation in this change.

Making a difference

Many people think that elders are weak, dependent and considered inactive. But all that is changing with more and elders active and busy in their respective fields. Some are advisors, some travel while other pursue hobbies at home or contribute to the family and society through charitable pursuits. What’s important though is to engage the elders and to have them part of a peer group with similar interests and easy. Bihani also fills the inter-generational gap and helps young and elder people work together in areas of health, social activities and organisational services.
The elderly populations are not just a statistic; they are significant contributors to all aspects of social, economic, cultural, political and civic life. As far as participation and contribution is concerned, elders have a unique role and importance in re-exploring and strengthening sustainable growth along with their younger counterparts. Harnessing inter-generational dialogue, group solidarity and promoting co-existence is the true formation of cohesive society.

The 2017 theme of the United Nations International Older Person’s Day (UNIDOP) has specifically focused on utilising the skills, expertise and the experiences of the older persons as well as their active involvement through technological innovations, entrepreneurship and civic engagements promoting inclusivity and cohesive environment.

Suman Rai is the Social Activities Coordinator at Bihani Social Venture. He can be reached at sumanrai.bsv@outlook.com

Bihani is a social venture born out of the need to create a positive outlook to life and living meaningfully with focus on individuals above fifty years of age (but not restricted to it) who want to re-engage, re-explore and re-live a new beginning or create a rewarding life second half of their lives based on their past experiences.