Heterogeneity of Elderly Women

Sadli (2018) in her book entitled ‘Being a Healthy and Productive Woman in Elderly’’ takes many pictures of the experiences of elderly women who are still productive. Although some elderly have health problems, this does not stop them from staying active. There are those who become reforestation activists by turning their homes into training centers for reforestation and waste management, some are still trading in the market, there are also elderly women who have a background in counselors (psychologists) who help troubled elderly people, and many more. These elderly women have the passion to continue to benefit others in various socio-economic strata. Based on their interests and socioeconomic conditions, they remain active and maintain their social interactions.

Therefore, elderly women are a diverse group. Starting from physical health, interpreting the term elderly, until choosing personal activities. The diversity of elderly women is also reflected in the way they think. There are those who at the age of 80 years are still traceable in expressing their thoughts and there are also those who tend to repeat their statements. In terms of physical health, some still walk upright and fast, while others need wheelchair assistance. From the way they observe activities, there are those who always complain and only think about their own condition, there are those who are still full of enthusiasm, responsiveness, and care about the events around them, and so on (Sadli, 2018). The elderly women have hope, which is to be independent and useful. Therefore, the thing that must be understood and supported is how elderly women can still live independently and be strong even though they are in limitations.


Becoming a Tough Elderly Woman

Tough elderly are healthy, independent, and active (Sadli, 2018). Healthy in this context does not refer to its literal meaning. But it refers to the way the elderly adapt or adjust to the disease and master their physical deficiencies. As for independence, that is, they are still able and willing to be skilled so they do not always depend on others. While active is the willingness to find and be invited to do new or old activities, even though they have experienced various physical, cognitive, and social setbacks. In order to become a strong elderly, it is necessary to apply SMART, namely Sehat means healthy, Mandiri means independent, Aktif means active, Rajin means diligent, and Taat means obedient (dunialansia, 2019). In elderly age, apart from taking care of physical health, taking care of mental and social health is clearly equally important. So caring for social interactions is important to maintain ‘well-being’ as an elderly person (Sadli, 2018).  

In order to realize tough elderly women, the availability of a friendly physical environment for the elderly needs to be considered. Because so far public facilities, public buildings, road conditions and pedestrians have not been sensitive to the needs of the elderly. Policy makers also have a fundamental role so that the policies issued can take sides and are friendly to the elderly. On September 22, 2020, the Ministry of Health published the National Action Plan  (Rencana Aksi Nasional/RAN) for Elderly Health 2020-2024. RAN for Elderly Health from 2020 to 2024 consists of six strategies. First, formulate and disseminate policies and regulations as well as norms, standards, procedures, criteria regarding health services for the elderly. Second, increasing the quantity and quality of health care facilities that are polite to the elderly and access to health services that are polite to the elderly and long-term care. Third, build and develop partnerships as well as networks for the implementation of elderly health services that involve cross programs, cross sectors, and professional organizations, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, the business world, mass media, and other related parties. Fourth, increase the availability of data and information in the health sector for the elderly. Fifth, increase the participation and empowerment of families, communities, and the elderly in an effort to improve the health of the elderly. Sixth, increasing the participation of the elderly in efforts to improve family and community health (liputan6.com, 2020).

In addition to the RAN for Elderly Health, on September 14, 2021, the government has also issued Presidential Regulation (Perpres) Number 88 of 2021 concerning the National Strategy for Sustainability. The formation of this Presidential Regulation was motivated by the need for cross-sectoral coordination between the central government, regional governments, and all stakeholders to create independent, prosperous, and dignified elderly people (kemenkopmk.go.id, 2021). This Presidential Regulation has five strategies to improve the welfare of the elderly, namely (1) increased social protection, income security, and individual capacity; (2) improving the health status and quality of life of the elderly; (3) community development and an elderly friendly environment; (4) strengthening institutions implementing sustainability programs; (5) respect, protection, and fulfillment of the rights of the elderly (jdih.kemenparekraf.go.id). However, to fulfill the rights of the elderly in the regions, this Presidential Regulation still requires acceleration, socialization, and synchronization between the central, provincial and district/city governments (geriatri.id, 2021). In this Presidential Regulation, stakeholders including non-governmental organizations are also expected to actively participate so that the elderly can live more empowered lives.  


Opening Space for Elderly Women

Rahima as an institution that focuses on Islamic discourse that is friendly to women, considers it important to raise the issue of the elderly in community work. Elderly women who are part of the Simpul are still involved and play an active role in Rahima’s various educational activities. For example, in the Simpul Rahima Madura (Women Ulema) Consolidation, which was held in November 2021, several elderly women ulemas were also presented. They call themselves the ‘ancestors of Rahima’ and some of them tell of their past involvement in Rahima. They tell about the figures in Rahima who influenced her perspective and efforts to pass on the perspective of a gender-just Islam to her children, family, and communities. Inviting elderly women in Rahima’s various activities is part of efforts to strengthen existence and socialize between generations. After all, providing a meeting room is a form of stimulation needed by elderly women to improve their quality of life. (Andi Nur Faizah)

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