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Care Makes a Big Difference

This simple act of care made me reflect on the crucial role of small gestures in the lives of our parents
12:00 AM Jun 09, 2024 IST | DR. ZUBAIR SALEEM
care makes a big difference
Photo by author

As a specialist for senior citizens, I not only treat elderly patients but also inquire about the caregiving provided by their adult children at home. While I often witness adult children taking excellent care of their aging parents, there are unfortunately many instances of neglect and mistreatment. It’s a heartbreaking reality, and it highlights the importance of promoting a culture of respect and care for our parents.


A few days ago, an experience left a deep impact on me, reinforcing the significance of small, compassionate gestures towards our parents. It was a scorching hot day when I booked a cab through an app. The ride was accepted, and the name displayed was Ghulam Jeelani. When the cab arrived, I was greeted by a young man driving it. He welcomed me with a warm smile, looking well-kept and wearing earphones.


As we began our journey, he made a phone call. “Where are you?” he asked the person on the other end. After listening to the reply, he said, “Yes, I am fine. I just bought some watermelon for you; it is very hot.” After a few more moments of conversation, he ended the call.


While we were heading towards my destination, he turned to me and asked, “Sir, can I just take a different lane? It will only add one more kilometre and just 3-4 minutes more.” Curious, I asked, “Why do you want to go from that side?”


With all humility, he replied, “My mother doesn’t take much fluid, and it is very hot. I brought a watermelon for her, and as soon as I saw a passenger requesting a cab passing through my area, I accepted the request so that I could drop the fruit at my home.”


His words touched me deeply, and I allowed him to reroute through his home. In a world where I often see adult children being unfair to their parents, here was a young man thinking about his mother’s well-being. He drove through a narrow lane, called his father, who came out to the road, and handed over the watermelon to him.


This simple act of care made me reflect on the crucial role of small gestures in the lives of our parents. It is often these little acts of kindness and attention that significantly impact their health and happiness. Studies have shown a strong correlation between the happiness of parents and their overall health. When parents feel loved, cared for, and appreciated, it greatly enhances their mental and physical health.


Family support plays a fundamental role in the health and happiness of elderly individuals. According to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, parents who receive emotional and social support from their families tend to have better physical health outcomes and lower rates of depression. The sense of being valued and cared for can significantly enhance their quality of life.

In another study by the National Institute on Aging, it was found that seniors who maintain strong social connections and feel supported by their families are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise and proper nutrition. This not only improves their physical health but also boosts their emotional well-being.

In various religious texts, caring for the elderly is emphasised as a moral duty. In Islam, for instance, respect and care for parents are paramount. The Quran states, “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], ‘uff,’ and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (Quran 17:23)

The young cab driver’s act of bringing a watermelon for his mother may seem small, but it represents a great sense of duty and love. These small gestures are crucial in ensuring that our parents feel appreciated and cared for. Whether it’s a phone call to check in on them, helping with daily chores, or simply spending quality time together, these actions make a significant difference.

Neglect and Mistreatment

Sadly, not all parents are fortunate enough to receive such care. Many are neglected and mistreated by their families. As a society, it is our collective responsibility to address this issue. Raising awareness about the importance of elder care and promoting positive behaviors towards seniors can help combat neglect and mistreatment.

Education and community involvement are key. By educating young people about the importance of respecting and caring for their elders, we can raise a culture that values and supports our aging population. Community programs that provide resources and support for caregivers can also make a significant impact. Communities can also play a vital role by providing programs and activities that encourage seniors to stay active and connected.

Creating a supportive environment for seniors involves more than just family support. It requires a holistic approach that includes access to healthcare, social services, recreation and opportunities for social engagement. Health and recreation centres can offer classes and events specifically designed for seniors, promoting physical activity and social interaction.

By working together—families, communities, and healthcare providers—we can ensure that our parents live their golden years with dignity, health, and happiness. Let us be inspired by Ghulam Jeelani’s example and strive to make a positive difference in the lives of our elderly loved ones every day.