Ayub Mungiiria, a Nchuri Ncheke elder and small scale farmer, who admits that many old people are suffering in villages says most culprits who abandon parents are men.
“Women have taken that responsibility and if you look keenly at many households, you will realise that daughters are the most blessed. I’m lucky that my children take good care of me and that I made some investments when I was younger.
“I refused to be taken to a care home because I knew that I would feel lonely. It’s always a joy to see them each morning bringing me breakfast.” Says Mungiiria.
Wachira Kiago, a kikuyu elder opines that those who fail to take care of their parents are a cursed lot because a parent is the only one who can bless them.
“In Kikuyu tradition it’s law to love your parents because that is where you get your blessings. There are so many cases of aging parents who are dying of hunger whereas their sons spend their money in bars drinking alcohol with women. As an elder I would urge them to think twice because that is a way of digging your own grave,” Kiago says.
According to the old man, the elderly don’t ask for much; all that they need is for the children to visit whether they have money or not.
“We also have people who feel that their parents ought to have invested in their youthful days. They forget that even giving life to a child deserves a reward, and that saving is not easy when you have to raise and educate many children,” Kiago adds.
Dr Lenrod Otsyula of Defense Forces Memorial Hospital says elderly people are, by virtue of their physiology, more prone to malnutrition so they require a good diet. He says depression among the elderly is also common and it can be triggered by neglect from children.
“It is a shame when people abandon their parents. Feeding them is isn’t expensive anyway because they consume less and rarely snack in between major meals because of dental problems and loss of appetite due to olfactory or visual perception of food.
“Physical disability would also affect their feeding. All they need is care, attention, regular visits, use of nutrition supplements where necessary and frequent physical examinations,” the doctor explains.
Susan Owour Njuguna a social worker at Elroi Outreach Mission in Nairobi which cares for the elderly says Nairobi is a big challenge for neglected parents because if safety and high cost of living. Owour says those can’t take care of their parents take them to old people’s homes.