The industry has failed. Government has failed. But our aged-care system can be revamped through a slight change in our thinking.
Continuous exposés of inhuman crimes, banal cruelty, inexperienced staff, incompetent management, exceedingly poor behaviour, theft, deceit and criminal activity in our aged care facilities are rightly causing people of a certain age to be concerned.
For we are looking at our future.
It seems an obvious statement but, if we live long enough, all of us will eventually become old.
With a rapidly ageing population, a vastly unprepared and corrupt system is set to be engulfed by swarms of the shuffling not-quite-dead. It is incumbent on all of us, still pre-shuffle, to ensure safe passage into our dotage.
Radical ideas and new, and by some measures extreme, notions must be discussed to avert a generational tragedy.
The industry has failed. Government has failed. We need monumental change and a complete re-think in our current aged care processes.
Where does this change begin?
I believe it begins with education. A current TV show boasts of the benefits the ultra-elderly derive from the company of four-year-olds.
Imagine if we could encourage this interaction from an early age, continue it through the often difficult teen years and mature it into adulthood as a satisfying and fulfilling career path.
What does today’s child have to look forward to, apart from the next Pewdie Pie video upload? Everything else is meaningless. We’re bequeathing them a poisoned planet with little hope or opportunity.
Where we once took pride in tedious tasks, in labouring in fields, starching linen or cleaning silver, today’s children have only computers. Will anyone really need to understand maths, science, English or history when Google answers instantly?
Where we once took pride in tedious tasks, in labouring in fields, starching linen or cleaning silver, today’s children have only computers. Will anyone really need to understand maths, science, English or history when Google answers instantly? And will an education developed for 19th Century sensibilities be suitable for life in the coming decades of the 21st?
The games of our youth prepared us to be doctors and nurses and firemen. What do their childish games prepare them for? Minecraft really doesn’t come close to the difficulty of working down a real-world mine.
And they are always everywhere: in malls, on public transport or clustered in milling mobs outside Macdonald’s. Though they don’t know it yet, these wayward and shiftless young people crave responsibility and desire to be part of society. How are we helping them?
Previous generations understood their youth better than we do. Once the adage ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ was the best relationship you could hope for between seed giver, seed bearer and offspring.
By lessening government control and rolling back some vile progressive ideas from the late 1800s, lost youth could be legally press-ganged into subservience for the greater good.
Now, not only are children heard but in some ridiculous instances, they’re listened to. Sometimes their opinions are considered valid and their ideas are discussed as if they are rational. It is incomprehensible to me that this is the current state of affairs when we have a crisis in aged care and young people with nothing to do. How do these kids find validation in a rapidly changing world where the reliable jobs of our youth are simply gone?
Can you imagine the pride a young person would experience periodically rolling over yellow-skinned geriatrics to prevent bedsores? Or the joy little hands would experience smoothing medicated lotions on psoriasis afflicted skin knowing they’re learning a skill. Ahh, yes, you don’t get that sense of personal achievement from Clash of Clans.
There is one word, a simple solution for both the listless young and the crumbling old.
That word is Impressment. While the practice has been frowned upon for a couple of centuries, in many countries’ laws governing impressment have never been repealed. The word comes with some baggage, but we can soften its meaning in the age of the snowflake.
By lessening government control and rolling back some vile progressive ideas from the late 1800s, lost youth could be legally press-ganged into subservience for the greater good. And isn’t that a good thing? This wonderful, but currently out-of-favour idea, served the navies of the world providing them with excellent cannon fodder for centuries. It could easily be re-imagined for the benefit of contemporary society.
Let us bring young people and old people together, by force if necessary, for the future is fast approaching.
Anyone who’s seen a crone sniffing at the fontanelle of a newborn will testify to its disturbing power. It is a near vampiric transaction where the world-weary octogenarian nasally ingests the little one’s life force. I have borne witness to glaucoma ridden eyes rolling back in paroxysms of ecstasy at the mere sight of an uncovered child’s crown.
And young children do seem to enjoy the company of the old. Perhaps they haven’t heard all their stories yet, or their olfactory senses haven’t developed. Or perhaps it’s because children are accepting and non-judgemental and the elderly are not a constant reminder of their own mortality.
The benefits for old people are obvious. The benefits for young people are less so but they will reveal themselves over time.
To paraphrase the Jesuits: Hand us the boy (or girl, or other) and we will hand you the professional multi-disciplined aged care facility worker trained in all aspects of aged care.
So pass the child and take a deep breath, for the future is now.