By Sahar Moussa

When a person reaches the age of 60, they are sadly now considered a burden on society. Yes, maybe due to old age, seniors get sick more often and need more care. This is natural, but in return, they have so much to offer to society and the family. Ageing is a natural part of life that no one can stop – unfortunately, some countries consider old people a liability.

Many unconfirmed and controversial reports were carried by local media about the Public Authority for Manpower’s rules and procedures for granting work permits, which included a ban on issuing permits to those who reach the age of 60 and do not hold a university degree.

Reports later said work permit fees for this category of residents were reduced by 50 percent, so the maximum annual fee will be KD 1,000 per individual instead of KD 2,000. This will include the state’s fee expected to be not more than KD 500, and the same or less for insurance that will cover all medical treatments in the private sector – but until this moment the decision has not been implemented.

There was a kind of mass panic among senior residents towards this decision – as many of them were born here and have lived all their lives in Kuwait. Many senior residents felt backstabbed because they consider Kuwait as their first and last home. They have established businesses and raised families here. They have given everything to this country – from loyalty and devotion to experience – and still have much more to give. The government considers them a burden on the healthcare system, which maybe in a way they are, but I am sure there are other options and alternatives to resolve this problem without having to terminate their services.

Seniors are a valuable treasure for any society; they are full of knowledge and experience and have a lot to give. In Kuwait, there are highly skilled laborers who are indispensable, and the young generation can learn and benefit a lot from them. We cannot disregard their integration into society – just like any younger person, they shop and use services (which employ people), and they are active.

Another point is that seniors babysit – they look after grandchildren and love to do it. As most younger residents have more than one job, they need a babysitter or other care options to look after their children. Here comes the important role of grandparents – they provide care and safety for grandchildren so their own children can return to the workforce, which is a lifesaving situation that gives peace of mind to the parents and security to children, not to mention saving money.

There is an essential impact of grandparents and seniors in the lives of children and adults. They bring wisdom, calm and dependability. They shape the future of younger generations, filling them with a sense of fun and adventure and give another perspective and point of view. Seniors have lived through situations others cannot even imagine – they are a living example of our treasured history that nowadays is buried by the fast-paced life and technology.

Who can resist listening to elders when they passionately narrate endless stories about their youth, experiences and situations they have faced? Stories can influence children’s personalities and give them good values and lessons. I do not know if the government has carried out a study about the impact of kicking seniors out and the consequences that will follow. However, I really wish they will reconsider the decision and study its impact on the society.

sahar@kuwaittimes.net