By Jeremy Seabrook

Right here, Jeremy Seabrook examines the genuine implications of the ageing phenomenon and demanding situations our preconceptions approximately the way it will be tackled. Arguing that the accrued talents and adventure ofthe aged could be hired to complement society, instead of being perceived as a "burden", he makes a case for a thorough re-thinking of our angle to inhabitants matters, migration, social constructions and employment coverage.

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Sabetun Bibi’s seven children were all born here; among them are a fisherman, a driver, a railway worker; one has a small shop. She shares the family’s food and looks after the grandchildren. She has the serene face of a woman confident that she is cared for, and who still has a valuable 42 A World Growing Old social function. It would not occur to her – or to any of her children – to think of her as dispensable or as an encumbrance. While it is still true that the major source of care for the elderly remains with the family, the institution itself is under great strain in the context of global economic integration.

While Japanese women may expect to reach 80, in parts of East Africa the impact of AIDS has reduced the expectation of life to below 50. Until recently, the preoccupation of international agencies has been, overwhelmingly, with children – children in poverty, children traumatised by conflict and war, and often compelled to fight as soldiers, children trafficked into prostitution, enslaved and bonded as labour. Above all, the fertility of the poor has been a major object of concern, and one of the main purposes of intervention has been to limit population growth.

You take our medically qualified, our nurses. You take our information technology practitioners. Then you take graduates to work in your hotels and restaurants, people who are highly qualified are transformed into a source of cheap labour. This is another form of biopiracy: even now, you are still robbing us of what we desperately need for our own survival. There are at least two malign consequences of this. One is that families get broken, and our old people feel hurt and abandoned. Then the migrants who have gone to America and Europe feel guilty.

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