In our Tafta blog, we write about anything and everything to do with active ageing, and promoting a life worth living, regardless of age
In South Africa, we celebrate Human Rights Day with a public holiday on 21 March. This marks the day of the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, when 69 people were killed (29 of them children) while protesting the pass laws of the apartheid era (pictured above).
Since then, South Africa has made great strides forward. We have freedoms protected by the constitution and laws promoting equality and individual rights. But those laws can be difficult to enforce.
First in the world
For example, our constitution was the first in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination based on sexual orientation. And yet people continue to be attacked and murdered for being, or suspected of being, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Gender based violence is another blot on our human rights record. Every day in South Africa, a reported 114 women and girls are raped; when you think that this doesn’t include the hundreds more who don’t report attacks, you realise that we still have a long way to go in terms of protecting women’s rights.
Freedom of Expression
We all have the right to freedom of expression. But that comes with the responsibility to respect the rights of others; our right to freedom of expression cannot be used to hurt others. Hate speech, whether to someone’s face or venting on social media, will get you into all sorts of trouble.
According to the constitution, all children have the right to education. But many children from disadvantaged families aren’t going to school because their parents can’t afford school fees, uniforms or transport.
Or because they don’t have parents.
Child only households are common in our country – a legacy of the AIDS pandemic – with older children dropping out of school to look after younger siblings, or to earn money for food. When you add the right of everyone to health care services, sufficient food and water, and adequate housing, it’s obvious that many citizens are not able to exercise their human rights.
Right to dignity
Another difficult right to enforce is the right of everyone to dignity. We all have the right to have our human dignity respected. But what if you can’t stand up for your right to dignity? What if you’re old and frail and dependent on others to help you out of bed, wash and dress you and take you to the loo? If your carer is insensitive, busy or just disinterested, loss of dignity is a very real possibility.
Owing to the high levels of poverty and unemployment in the country, elders are at risk not only of losing their dignity, but of falling victim to crime, often at the hands of members of their own families. It’s not unusual for us to hear of cases where elders’ pensions are stolen, leaving them destitute and at risk of physical violence if they complain.
This is where Tafta steps in to protect elders’ rights. Thanks to support from the wider community, we are able to provide safe, affordable accommodation, nutritious meals and care for elders in need. This is something we can all celebrate on 21 March – along with helping others to understand their rights and helping them to access them.
Happy Human Rights Day!
[March 9, 2020]
Ahh, the month of love! Red roses, chocolate hearts, romantic candlelit dinners with your sweetheart. And perhaps the thrill of a card or flowers from a ‘secret admirer’.
But it’s not so much fun for those who don’t have a special someone to shower them with love on Valentine’s Day. Spare a thought for lonely ‘singles’, who might go the whole day without a hug or some small token to remind them that someone is thinking about them.
Sadly, this is all too often the case among older people. The likelihood of losing a beloved partner increases with every year that passes. Children grow up and leave home; often they leave town or even the country too, taking the grandchildren with them. Older people don’t just lose their sweetheart – they lose their entire family too.
How much fun would it be to be an elder’s ‘secret admirer’? To leave a note with a chocolate or flower somewhere they’ll find it – and fill their whole day with the magic of feeling loved and special. Here’s a little rhyme for inspiration:
“Somewhere there’s someone
Who dreams of your smile,
And finds in your presence,
That life is worthwhile.
So when you are lonely
Remember it’s true
Is thinking of you.”
Because, Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic relationships. It’s an opportunity to celebrate love in all its shapes and forms. From giving a stranger a genuine and heartfelt compliment to calling a friend to let them know you are thinking of them – acts of kindness equal love.
Why not pick some flowers from your garden and take them to an elderly neighbour who lives alone? Or take a handful of heart shaped sweets or chocolates everywhere you go on Friday 14th. Give them away to people you encounter – the car guard, the cashier at the supermarket, the petrol attendant who fills your car. Or pop into a children’s home or an old age home with enough treats for everyone.
If possible, take your kids with you – it’s never too soon to show them how good it feels to be kind and loving towards others.
And while you’re busy helping everyone else feel the love, don’t forget to love yourself on Valentine’s Day. Take care of your physical and mental health and give yourself a small treat.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
[February 11, 2020]
Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs) like Tafta are entitled to issue donors with section 18A certificates for donations received – allowing the donor to claim a rebate from SARS on his or her annual income tax return. This applies to both individuals and companies that are South African tax payers.
Up to 10% of taxable income may be claimed. So if your taxable income for the year is R100 000, you could donate R10 000 to your favourite charity (provided it is an approved SARS Section 18A PBO) and claim the full rebate.
For companies looking to reduce their tax burden, a donation to Tafta offers an additional benefit – points on your BBBEE scorecard. With over 51% Black Beneficiaries, Tafta is a Level Two contributor.
Not only that – you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your action will have a direct impact on some of the most vulnerable members of society … elderly pensioners who rely on Tafta for subsidised accommodation, Meals on Wheels, home based care and other services essential to their health and wellbeing.
Non profits like Tafta play a valuable role, taking up the slack between what government can provide and what it needed. Without these organisations, our society would be much worse off than it is.
Like most NPOs, Tafta depends on public donations to survive. Your support not only brings relief to those who rely on us now – it also ensures that we will be around to help you or your loved ones in the future, should the need ever arise.
Everybody wins! You can help the elderly … earn BBBEE points … and claim your rebate back from SARS.
[February 4, 2020]
By virtue of her age, 65 year old Susan is entitled to pensioners’ discount at her supermarket. “But I’m not a pensioner,” she says, “And I’m certainly not old!
“I’m still running my own successful business and keeping up a punishing schedule. I’m also still running – literally – although I’m not, and never have been, Comrades material.”
Susan is typical of today’s ‘young-old’ generation (those aged between 65 and 75 years), who are challenging the stereotype of retired people pottering round the garden in their slippers, or baking cookies with their grandchildren.
The so called ‘yold’ are wealthier, fitter, more active and socially engaged than previous generations of seniors. They’re travelling more, swelling the ranks of ‘mature students’ at universities, and transforming the health and insurance sectors. And many are working on into their late 60s and 70s.
“I enjoy the finer things in life – eating out, going to the theatre, being able to replace my car every few years, holidays abroad. Last year a friend and I went on a cruise and had the time of our lives! Although I’ve saved for my retirement, I’ll have to be a lot more careful with money then. I’d rather keep on working as long as possible so I can continue living the life I love.” Gina, 66
Continuing to work is one of the factors that help keep old age at bay. A German study found that the cognitive decline associated with ageing is lessened in people who carry on working past normal retirement age. Living lives of purpose and usefulness also boosts their self confidence.
“Going to work gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I sat around at home all day. I’m sure my brain would shut down. And it would drive my wife crazy! ” Raffik, 71
Many companies assume that older employees are less productive. But the study found that older workers have, if anything, slightly above-average productivity. Teams of workers from multiple generations are the most productive of all.
“Since my divorce ten years ago, I’ve lived alone. Some weekends I can go the entire day without speaking to a living soul. I look forward to getting to the office on Mondays, where I’m part of a lively team. Most of the others are much younger than me, but they treat me with respect. I’m their ‘go-to’ person whenever the figures don’t balance, because I’m good at spotting transposed figures and mistakes with addition and subtraction.” Benny, 68
Companies are going to be challenged to become more age-friendly – for example, they should not limit training opportunities to only younger staff members. The yold will also challenge public attitude towards older people. As people work longer and need less medical care, societies should be better off, because public spending on health and pensions should be lower.
“Although I’m nearly 70, I’m a keen scuba diver; I qualified as a dive master about 10 years ago, and have dived all over the world. It’s become more physically taxing as I’ve grown older, but there are always others in the group willing to help with the heavy equipment. Once in the water, I feel as free as a bird (or should that be a fish?). Although I can afford to retire, I see no reason to give up my freelance bookkeeping job, which helps pay for my dive trips. I also have a Saturday morning swimming class for tiny tots. Interacting with the kids and helping them to overcome their fear of the water is very rewarding.” Esme, 69
Not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy good health and a comfortable lifestyle as they get older. But for those of us who are fit and active, the idea of fitting in with an arbitrary ‘sell by’ date which decrees we should give up work at a certain age, seems ridiculous.
Are you part of, or approaching the yold generation? What are your feelings about retirement? Please leave a comment below.
[With acknowledgement to J Parker in The Economist]
[January 20, 2020]
According to Forbes, studies have shown that less than one month into the New Year, fewer than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions. Only 8% actually accomplish them. Dismal stats if you’re hoping to reinvent yourself in 2020.
But the usual ‘get fit’, ‘lose weight’, ‘stop smoking’,’ stick to a budget’, ‘spend less time on social media’ resolutions don’t work unless there is real commitment to change. One bad day and we’re back to bingeing on comfort food, ranting on Facebook and telling ourselves that we just can’t find the time to go for a run or hit the gym.
So, with 2020 looming on the horizon, here are five important things you can resolve to do that you will follow through on because they’re quick and easy:
- Make a Will. This is a task most of us put off again and again, because we’d rather not think about a time when we’re no longer around. But it is really important to get your affairs in order – especially if you have minor children.Knowing their future is secure, that your belongings and money will go to the right people (or a charity that’s close to your heart), and that your final wishes will be respected, leads to great peace of mind. So why not make an appointment with your banker, an attorney or your financial advisor and get this important task out of the way early in the New Year.
- Do something for someone else. Volunteer to help clean up the beach, a park or your neighbourhood – or help at an animal shelter or old age home. Research shows that pitching in regularly can lead to less stress and lower blood pressure – and release those ‘feel good’ endorphins, so you actually feel happier. Contact us on 031 332-3721 to find out about volunteering for just a couple of hours a week as a Tafta Meals on Wheels ‘hopper’.
- Set aside a few hours over the weekend to clean up and de-clutter your home. Being surrounded by mess and chaos ups your stress levels, and can actually encourage you to head for the cookie jar to cheer yourself up. Donate unwanted clothing, kitchen appliances, books, toys and décor items to a charity shop like Tafta’s Granny’s Attic; you’ll have the satisfaction of a neat and tidy home plus helping a worthy cause. Call them on 031 332 3721.
- Take a break! Most of us are under pressure to get more and more done in less time. Busyness has become a badge of honour; it’s almost like a competition to prove who worked the latest last night.Stop it! Spending long hours in front of the computer doesn’t make you more productive. Take your lunch break and use it to go for a walk around the block, sit in a park to eat your sarmies, or find a comfy chair and read a few pages of your book. You’ll find you get through more work, more efficiently afterwards – and you can leave the office on time!
- Plan your next holiday – even if it’s just a weekend away. Having something pleasant to look forward to can really lift your mood and boost happiness – especially if you’re holidaying with your partner or a group of friends. Set up a holiday WhatsApp group and keep reminding each other of the treat in store. As soon as you get back from your holiday, start planning the next one!
[January 6, 2020]