Do more to ensure the elderly are cared for

It is such a sad state of affairs that some of the elderly sick are being neglected by their own families and have to find solace in dedicated and compassionate befrienders (Volunteers who ensure no one dies alone; Dec 10).

The volunteers who befriended Mr Tay Cheng Tian and committed to spending time with him till the end are heroes and a rare breed.

Feelings of loneliness and being unloved can have serious health consequences for the elderly.

It can shorten the lifespan of seniors who live in isolation. According to a study by the University of California, San Francisco, loneliness among the elderly increases the risk of an untimely death by 45 per cent.

It was also troubling to read reports of how the elderly in Japan have resorted to committing crime because of poverty and loneliness (More seniors taking to crime in Japan; Dec 10).

Those who neglect their elderly sick relatives need to do some soul searching. They must ask themselves whether they are making the effort to visit their elderly loved ones regularly.

Everyone, irrespective of their status in society, should be allowed to die with dignity and be remembered by their loved ones.

Attitudes need to change, and our schools, religious organisations and employers have to reinforce the message that filial piety should be observed at all times, and that taking care of our elderly should be part of our culture.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2017, with the headline 'Do more to ensure the elderly are cared for'. Print Edition | Subscribe