In East Asia, people are bound by a Confucian principle of filial piety, a moral of respect for the elderly, fathers and ancestors; here, elderly parents become the responsibility of adult children. Deeply rooted in traditional values, children are brought up knowing that they eventually exchange roles with their parents and care for them.
In China, an ‘Elderly Rights Law’ was introduced to inform adult children that they ‘should never neglect or snub elderly people’ and must make arrangements to visit them ‘often’, regardless of their proximity. Although not clear, on how often is enough, the law itself shows that in China, old people are not to be messed with.
In Japan, the 60th and 70th birthday is marked with big celebrations where children perform dances and offer gifts.
Just like China, there are laws which place the interest of the elderly at heart: ‘In Singapore, parents can sue their adult children for an allowance; those who fail to comply can face six months in jail,’ according to the Associated Press.
In the Mediterranean respect for elders operates as a cultural norm. It is also common for extended families to live together with several generations under one roof.
Grandparents tend to live in with families and aging is celebrated. African-American funerals tend to be life-affirming and to have a celebratory air intermingled with the sorrow.
Parents are moved to care-homes when possible and applicable. The connection parent-children is less warm as in other parts of the world. Most elderly feel a form of loneliness.
Demographically, the world has reached a challenging point in its history. The prospect is for a growing developing world population and a shift of economic influence away from the developed world. While some aspects of this shift are clear, others are less easy to predict. Many countries become more ethnically diverse, particularly among their younger age groups.