Today is Republic Day, a day that commemorates the creation of an Executive President and the coming into effect of a new Republican Constitution.
It meant that from July 1,1960, the supreme power of Ghana was taken from the British monarch to be held by the people of Ghana and their elected representatives, who exercise that power according to the rule of law.
Such is the importance attached to the day that until this year when the Public Holidays Amendment Act, 2019 was passed, the day had been observed as a statutory public holiday Although the day is no longer a statutory public day, it remains remarkable and relevant in the annals of the country.
It is good though that the day is still used to honour senior citizens because there is a lot that the younger generation can learn from them.
Arguably, the older generation has many hidden values than we ever thought. They did a lot for this country in their working life and we owe our current development status to their sweat and toil.
Ghana is a country with a highly diversified culture and religious faiths, but for many years the various faiths and cultures have been living together peacefully.
The country thus has the unique advantage of deriving benefits from this cultural diversification, which has partly become possible because of the trail blazed by our senior citizens.
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The Daily Graphic uses this occasion to urge the current generation and especially the youth never to forget the valuable contribution of the elderly to Ghana’s development and rather be ready to respect their viewpoints and experience while we progress further in development.
Many a time we are tempted to see the elderly as having old-fashioned ideas and tend to disregard their counsel. At other times too, we have mostly stereotyped them as being anti-youth, which is unhelpful.
On this occasion that we honour senior citizens, we want to remind all, especially policy makers, about some of the challenges our older citizens go through that make life difficult for them.
In our communities, it is not uncommon to find most old people having challenges with housing, as many of them live in rented or family houses. In this age when people have become more individualistic, these old people hardly have anybody to care for them.
In times past, grandchildren were sent to live with these old people. But the dynamics of society have altered this, with society becoming more urbanised and parents more concerned about ensuring better education for their children, which is better accessed in the towns and cities.
Health care for the aged is another challenge. Pension funds are too meagre to cater for their frequent health needs.
Those who do not have any pension funds experience excruciating poverty, making their lives miserable.
We think the country can sacrifice a little to improve the living conditions of the elderly.
The Daily Graphic suggests that as a start, the age at which one qualifies for free premium payment of the National Health Insurance Scheme should be reduced to tie with the retiring age, so that from 60, at which age people officially cease working, they also start benefitting from free health care.
There must also be plans to establish social centres in the communities for the aged where senior citizens can go to kill the boredom that they experience.
We can certainly do a little more for our senior citizens to show our gratitude and encourage the younger generation to die for the country.