We get a little bit older everyday. The aging process begins at birth.
We all have inherited a genetic code. It is this code that will tell your body: You have inherited these diseases ... Our genetic code yells at us: “Prepare your old age!”
And we go through life as if we would live forever and be immune to all the health problems we inherited from our ancestors.
Our future body is built throughout our existence. During the stages of life, there are several external interferences in the physical body that influence our older age.
Gender issues cause major or minor concerns. There are physical changes in hormone levels, falling hair, weight gain, emotional issues beyond the commitment to the inter-relationships.
But we are not only a physical device with physical and chemical reactions. We are a holistic being, endowed with intelligence, speech and memory. We walk along the path of life carrying our baggage of primary needs. That makes us question the whole time:
What were the social conditions in which this old person was born? What is the cultural history of his or her family? What were his or her choices? How did he or she develop his or her potential? What did this person eat? Did he or she have vices? Is this elder person taking care of his or her health? How healthy were his or her hobbies? What was your choice to build the continuity of your family?
We could list several issues and we could not fully address the issue of aging. The aging process is complex, in reality, it is the process of living.
Working with the elderly for 21 years, I have learned more than I have taught. Let's enter the world of these experiences to multiply them? During this time we had to get diversified knowledge to transform it into pedagogical action.
Brazil is changing its face: it is no longer a new young country and it is becoming a country of old men.
The census carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), from 1991 to 2010 reflects a decrease in birth rate and fertility. It Indicates a significant increase of added years of life in the adult population. It must be noted that there is also an increase in young adult mortality due to violence and traffic accidents.
It also features a (?) an analysis by genre: for every 205 births, 105 are men. Another important fact is that there are 96 men for every 100 women. Therefore, the mortality rate among men is higher.
According to the 2010 Census, there are 45.932,295 people between 0 and 14 years; 34.236,060, between 15 and 24 years; 46.737,506, between 25 and 39, 34.983,120, between 40 and 54, 14.785,338, 55 to 64 years, and 14.081,480 with over 65 years.
The Southeast and South are the regions with the oldest population in the country. The two regions had, in 2010, a number of elderly people aged 65 of over 8.1%. That same year, the population of children under 5 years was 6.5% in the Southeast and 6.4% in the South.
The current reality is very different from 10 years ago. The statistical data according to the IBGE show this change in the age profile of the population.
Data from 1991 show that the group of male children who were 0-4 years old was 5.5% and 5.7% for female children. There was a drop in these percentages in 2000, which came to 4.9% and 4.7% culminating in 3.7% and 3.6% in 2010. In the contrary, The elderly population aged 65 or more grows. In 1991 was 4.8%; to 5.9%, in 2000, reaching 7.4%, by the year 2010.
In 1991, the group of 0-15 year olds represented 34.7% of the population. In 2010 that number dropped to 24.1%. The population over 65 years, that amounted in 1991 to 4.8%, rose to 7.4% in 2010.
"That means there are fewer children and adolescents in the country than 10 years ago and that the elderly population has increased," says Fernando Albuquerque, manager of the Department of Population and Social Indicators of IBGE.
With the advancement of public policies in diverse areas, the adult population becomes stronger and are achieving an older age (a longer life expectancy).
Vaccines have an important role in this process, as well as pensions, the shift in cultural power, social behavior, in health prevention. All of this could enable older people a better quality of life to this new phase.
The population profile is modified and is influenced by all the index presented. Until the year 2050, Brazil will be a country with predominantly elderly.
We need to be aware of the scope of this phenomenon of development that occurs throughout the life-span. What should we do to an old age with more health and safety?
The study of gerontology is primarily responsible for the perception of a new look in the elderly. Nobody is born old. Happy are those who become old in a healthy way, especially those who can have a quality of life in old age.
Educators are concerned with developmental psychology aiming to discover the stages of education to work in classrooms with children and young people. Our mission as pedagogues is greater. We need to look at that child and two years designing his 65 years. How to do this?
Not discarding the adult stages of human development, giving the same value of research to the older age groups, and realizing that the current education project is necessary to develop a look at the very long term life expectancy.
The profession of pedagogue gave me the chance to work with the age extremes of life, in daily practice and learning how to deal with the similarities and differences between children and the elderly. This Made me realize, for example, how much we can use creative resources to work the difficulties that the elderly go through due to the sequelae of stroke, which sometimes reduces their mobility, using resources that we use to develop the motor skills of children.
Professionals in several areas as well as the elderly’s families must prepare to cope with the demands that arise from aging.
The Starting point might be the domestic architecture, with safety structure, where the floors and decoration take into account the perspective of the young couple becoming a happy elderly couple.
Domestic accidents can bring serious problems to the elderly. Serious consequences may arise, such as the lack of mobility, respiratory diseases due to the period of rest, and sadness because of loneliness.
Why do women live longer? The woman has always been a great caregiver - for children, family… Now, the women are rediscovering and beginning to really look after themselves.
I went to four institutions dedicated to the elderly men and women, I noticed that 90% of seniors who attended those establishments were women.
In these social projects, women do handicraft work, return to school, sing, dance, and take part in various activities offered to them. The 10% of men who frequent the same places select what they want to do.
Women take part in activities that they enjoy, not what they are told to do (not due to obedience), and feel this occupation is improving their lives. They Often give their opinion about what they would do and make it clear that when they finish their day at the NGO, they will return to their homes to take care of the household. Life goes on.
What about men? they had their wives at home or in the project, who would give continuity to the basic care with their lives – for example, to make food, housekeeping and laundry, or to manage their medicines.
In poor communities, it is evident that women are in control. The woman It is the head of the couple. When she becomes old it is sometimes her pension that supports the whole family, besides taking care of grandchildren so that parents can work.
We need to develop a look that goes beyond the obvious, noting the human being. We must look beyond the statistics and learn to deal with people, realizing that they are also more than a genetic code. It is social and cultural, and that is the main point.
For example, A rebellious child, created with no rules, as how will he or she become as an adult? And when older? Will she become a helpful and polite grandmother?
Throughout our development in life, we acquire habits, weaknesses imposed by the lack of teaching and this leads to serious consequences after 60 years of behavior. The time does not erase what it does not register.
The child who is not educated to be sympathetic to life in all its forms, will become a neglecting adult and an elderly abandoned by their families.
We live in a web to weave a future which has in each of its points arguments in psychological, genetic, biological and socio-cultural events. Each event unfolds in life experiences, that are unique each person. This way we build and put together the fragments that form our life.
The Genetic and biological processes has improved over the years through scientific discoveries, the drugs are discovered and geriatrics becomes more and more developed, being divided into areas such as heart problems, gynecological, ophthalmic, among many others and the elderly need to have memory for manage their pill box.
The Gerontology associated with geriatric care ensures that the elderly should not be seen as isolated parts but as a whole and realize that by administering various drugs at the same time it will be necessary that the doctor is aware of all drugs already being taken by this person.
The public policies on health also develop prevention methods and encourage the elderly to use their wisdom to seek relationships and physical activities, making them aware that it is necessary that the physical body is constantly motivated to sustain its weight.
But what distinguishes one person from another is one’s culture, is one’s ability to control their vices, and will to change one’s way of living.
I visited two nursing homes, and there I found a committed team, every basic need met. And yet the smile, the twinkle in his eyes was hard for me to find. They Felt abandoned by their family, they received visits at least monthly, and still complained.
The feeling of isolation, of being out of one’s its cultural context leaves the elderly very fragile and lead them to question: what went wrong so that my family does not want me in my house?
The question would be, what did I offer for my son for him to treat me this way today?
I would not answer to this question. As an educator I have to work as a form of reconnection between the generations. I worked for 16 years at a nursery in City of God, with 150 children and 70 elderly.
In the early years I was only charmed by the children and vivacity, and for the elderly I just offered the basics.
But What is the basics? day I decided to see, feel, understand, learn, I joined the two extremes of life – childhood and old age. I did not have this idea, I only heard the elderly, I observed the children's reaction to what they heard and saw in the spaces of mutual coexistence.
It was there the answer to develop an action that takes into account the specificities of each age group, but giving priority to inter generation relations. The elderly and the children lived in the same communities, some were even relatives.
With the practical experiences, some concepts emerged. One example is to adapt the space not to brings risks to the children or the elderly. It also brought some questions, such as: why not use the creative activities from kindergarten, to treat elderly people with motor difficulties? The technique would be to hug him or her from behind to give security to the stand, offering paints, brushes, put a sheet so that he or she could create, as we do with children and have the patience to see it gradually stray far from the our embrace and become independent.
We discovered the wisdom of the elderly and the need to preserve the cultural memory that it represents for the community. Context had its most precious resource in a relationship, that space every day, We use art strategies with both children and elderly people – but always making sure not treat the elderly in a childish manner nor to treat the children as if they were adults.
This way, the intergenerational singing choir Emilien Lacay House was created: during the plays, the elderly would represent Grandma's lap for that child who was crying the mother's absence. And with whom should we share this discovery? With the families of children and the elderly.
We noticed that at parties and presentations, there was lack of public when seniors presented, and this began to bother us. We reverse the order of programming and make joint efforts, so that currently the biggest fans of the elderly are the children's families.
We think it was created a special action for these seniors to be recognized by the children’s families of the project, strengthening the bond with their own relational families, and we could go further by giving them visibility in the community. We decided to take them to presentations seeking more protection, recovery and compromise between the parties.
It is clear feminization of old age, just look towards sociodemographic, with the greater presence of women in the elderly population, increased longevity of women compared with men; relative growth in the number of women who are part of the economically active population, relative growth the number of women who are heads of households.
The question is, what are we doing today for the elderly that we will be in the future?
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices or Our Future a program of Word Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. Word Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the word.Voices of Our Future 2012 Assignments: Feature Stories