In December, I wrote about public bathroom etiquette and the need to leave them in the state you would like them to be when you come to use them. It seemed to resonate with quite a few people, as I received calls from friends and acquaintances saying how much they recognized their own opinions in what they read. They also added how angry it made them to find untidy bathrooms, especially in “higher-end” locations — they just do not expect people to be so thoughtless.
Among those who called was a dear lady who lives in Jeddah and who wanted me to write about something equally important. She explained that, as a woman of a certain age, she finds it difficult to enter shops from the street when there are steps with no banisters or anything else to hold on to, unless she has someone to help her. She said this is a recurrent problem for her and her friends, especially if, added to the age factor, other health issues are involved, such as difficulty walking or joint pain.
It is important that urban planners take into consideration ways to enable people to live enriched lives, giving them access to everything that makes a community.
In general, people are living longer and in better health. They also want to — and in most cases have to — live independent lives. This is to be encouraged. We all want to be self-sufficient and self-reliant as we grow older without having to rely on relatives or others in order to live a fulfilling life. However, this cannot be achieved if, for example, shopkeepers and municipalities do not take the necessary measures to make this possible.
As our lives are changing, with families getting smaller and the elderly gradually increasing in numbers, it is important that mobility is facilitated and that urban planners take into consideration ways to enable people to live enriched lives, giving them access to everything that makes a community. People should not be getting old at home alone, they should be provided with the support and services that help them remain mobile members of society.
• Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee within the Shoura.