The Old Boys (and Girls) from Brazil

     The 
Old Boys (and Girls) from Brazil

    The proportion of Brazil’s elderly is increasing more rapidly
     than that of children. In 1980 there were 16 elderly
    for every 100 children. In 2000, there were 30 elderly for
    every 100 children. The Catholic Church in Brazil
    is focusing its attention on them, this year.
    by: Daniel
    F. McLaughlin

    The word "old"
    for many people brings to mind a number of pejorative connotations. In
    the Brazilian society, "old" has this pejorative meaning, signifying
    the following: loss, nonproductive, weakness, uselessness and ancient.

    The Brazilian Catholic
    Bishops Conference in their annual Lenten Campaign prepared a manual on
    the question of the elderly in today’s society. One of the recommendations
    was to use the word idoso (elderly) instead of velho (old
    person) as it has a kinder meaning, referring to a person who has lived
    longer and has had more experience. The statements of the Brazilian Bishops
    in their Lenten document were reinforced by recent research done by the
    IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística—Brazilian
    Institute of Geography and Statistics).

    Bishop Javier Lozano
    Barragán speaking at the Second World Assembly of the United Nations
    on Growing Old, in Madrid, on April 8, 2002 said that the elderly are
    the guardians of the collective memory. They have a perspective of the
    past and of the future, at the present moment. The elderly can help bring
    together the different generations, placing at the disposal of all the
    treasures of their time, abilities and experiences.

    Dom Barragán
    mentioned that in today’s cult of global productivity, the elderly unfortunately
    run the risk of being considered useless. From a Christian point of view,
    their presence in today’s world clearly demonstrate that the economic
    value is not the only one nor the most important one.

    In their document
    on the elderly, the Brazilian Bishops Conference stated that the ageing
    of the population is a world phenomenon, but in Brazil, it is happening
    more rapidly.

    For example, in France,
    it took more that 150 years for the population over 65 years to reach
    15 percent of the total population of the country. In Brazil, this proportion
    was reached in only 25 years. IBGE research showed that in the next 20
    years the elderly population of Brazil should pass 30 million. In 1991,
    the population of those over 60 years was 10.7 million. In the year 2002,
    it was 14.5 million. The proportion of the elderly is increasing more
    rapidly than that of children. In 1980 there were 16 elderly for every
    100 children. In 2000, there were 30 elderly for every 100 children.

    In its report on the
    longevity of life for the elderly, the IBGE reports that living in the
    city could be very beneficial for the elderly, especially for widows,
    because of the proximity of their children and specialized health services.
    The report showed that the proportion of elderly living in rural areas
    fell from 23.3 percent in 1991 to 18.6 percent in 2002. Another interesting
    fact is that 62.4 percent of the elderly in Brazil are responsible for
    Brazilian households, an increase of 2 percent since 1991.

    Daniel McLaughlin
    is a Catholic priest living among the poor in the periphery of the
    city of São Paulo, Brazil. He can be reached at sejup1@alternex.com.br
     

    This material
    was supplied by Sejup, which has its own Internet site: http://www.oneworld.net/sejup

     

     

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