Posted by: anurag7000 | April 6, 2008

Security – A Major Value Among Elderly and Handicapped People

Living in our society is a risky business nowadays. This is a development phase of modern society where social, political, economic, and individual risks slip beyond the reach of the security and surveillance institutions of society. Individuals need to see, interpret, and process those possibilities, threats, and choices, which used to be solved by whole families, villages, or communities.

The elderly are a group prone to special fears and uncertainties in the risk society. The elderly feel abandoned, ignored by the technological and social development and their only ‘duty’ is to take the negative consequences like crime upon themselves.

In Western culture healthy and unhealthy are opposites in human lives, just as youth and old age are opposite each other. To put it simply; health and youth are on the positive side whereas unhealthy and old age are on the negative side. However, it is not so simple. For some reasons being elderly or handicapped means being unhealthy. Some individual might have lost a leg in a car accident and still be as healthy as before with a new artificial leg. Some other individual is handicapped because of a serious rheumatic decease and has many problems with poor health. The elderly and the handicapped face prejudice for being somewhat unhealthy, not pure, not normal, not whole, in some cases at least not any more.

Elderly and handicapped people do not often face hatred or open dislike from other people. More than that they face neglect; they are left alone in their dwellings and apartment buildings with no lifts; many public buildings including libraries and railway stations are still accessible via stairs and thus unattainable from them; they are excluded from society’s normal activities; development and planning are often done with the attitude: “we plan for normal people”.

Insecurity is the main problem of elderly and handicapped people: how can I survive if I can’t get out of bed; how to get my everyday food when carrying heavy groceries is not possible and preparing meals is not easy either; what if I needed a doctor and I’m alone; could I manage to get to the park by myself – what if something happens?

Insecurity is both physical, mental, social, and economic. Experiences of fear are connected closely to wellbeing, for insecurity and fear lower the feeling of wellbeing. Insecurity has five levels: 1) the environmental level, 2) the international level, 3) the national, social, and political level, 4) the communal level (family, friends, dwelling, job and livelihood); and 5) the individual level (health, nutrition, leisure time, hobbies, feelings of being protected and continuity). (Heiskanen 1996, 57)

Insecurity comes into people’s futures when fear is a reaction to real or imagined threat. People are taking insurance against feeling insecure for the future. People are saving money for the future, “for the rainy day”. We have fire and ambulance services in society due to insecurity.

The basic agenda must not be to propose exclude elderly and handicapped people from society but to build suitable apartments and surrounding areas for them. Security villages should be close to the city centre so the access to the city and city culture is easier. That is how elderly and handicapped people could be able to live like ‘normal people’, the way they used to be, the way they were when they were young, or the way they have the right to live their lives.



  1. its only in a few countries like India where its a touchy touchy issue to talk about old age … Old age is a time to enjoy your lives – and people actually relish their lives after retirement abroad in the Unites States as an example. We might all point fingers at U.S. for not having cultural values – but one just needs to see the lives of oldies to see how wrong we are.

    And most important, as has been mentioned in the article; the society also has an extremely important role to play – by making the society more user – friendly for the elders…

    I hate to blabber on like this – its just that this is something I have very close to my heart – and I believe that the worst thing you can do to the oldies is to deny them the simple things in life and to make them dependent !! Don’t do that, EvEr !!

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