High Court Ruling Highlights The Importance Of The Family Unit

According to a High Court ruling in Kenya, family members who neglect caring for their elderly members are in violation of the Constitution. Justice Anthony Mirima ruled that when members of the family attain 60 years of age, then the younger members are duty bound to care for and assist them.

The Judge, who was ruling in a succession case for the late Muiruri Kamau, added that while the Constitution is clear that parents should care for their children, when the parents get to 60, the responsibilities shift to the children.
“Children have to ensure their elderly parents and relatives are well fed, sheltered, access health care and are protected from abuse, neglect and inhuman treatment,” said the Judge.

Families are so important because they are the foundation upon which a successful society is built. The family unit is a microcosm of the larger society, whatever happens within it will echo in the larger world. The kind of bonds people have with their family is usually the basis of how they will interact with society. They inform the kind of relationships individuals will make in their community. Families impact our decisions, behaviors and values, and these carry on to the society as a whole.

Day to day, families are a practical source of assistance, structure and protection for the more vulnerable members of society. This reduces poverty levels while improving overall social stability. This stability and protection is very crucial for the elderly. Family support and connection is important for their social, mental and physical health.

These are some of the benefits older people get from being in a strong and supportive family unit.

  • Older people who have a strong social connection with their family are more likely to live longer than those who remain isolated. The family’s presence prolongs their life as well as improving the quality of their remaining years.
  • Older people surrounded by a strong family unit have better brian health. Happily engaging in social activities with their families helps them keep and even improve their memory and thinking abilities.
  • Older people close to their family also have better mental health. This is because they feel loved and valued. They are far less likely to be susceptible to mental illness like depression.
  • Older people who have regular contact and connection with their family will usually have a stronger immune system than those who don’t. This is important because immune systems are weaker in old age.

It should be obvious by now that family support and connections are extremely vital for the well-being of the elderly in society. Article 45(1) of the Constitution is explicit that the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis of social order, and shall enjoy the recognition and protection of the State. And with good reason. The role families play in caring for our senior citizens is one example of why it is important to keep the family unit intact. Modern societies tend to drift towards individualism and isolation. Threats to the traditional family must be identified and eliminated, for the sake of the stability of our societies.

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