We are not meant to be islands, lonely and desolate. We humans thrive as a community. Which is why it is such a blessing to have the elderly in our lives. Parents, grandparents, in-laws add so much vibrance and quality to how we develop. They are a source of joy and Barakah for us and our children in this Duniya and Akhirat.
Elderly are our assets
Most of the elderly people have deteriorating health after 65. In addition their mental health often becomes vulnerable from the aging process. Allah says, "And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, 'My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.' "(17:23-24).
And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination. (31:14)
The Quran mentions about breastfeeding at least 11 times. The Quran also says "Paradise lies at the feet of your Mother.
So, one's own parents have the first and foremost priority to be taken care of.
The Quran also reads,"…Treat with kindness(Ihsan) your parents and relatives and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people ;be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity."..(2:83)
" Serve Allah and join not any partner with Him; and do good(Ihsan)to parents, relatives, orphans and those in need," (4:36)
Here Arabic word Ihsan is used in above verses for kindness and benevolence which covers many incredible meanings as performance of good deeds, charity, beautification, excellence, grace, kindness, etc. Thus the Quran urges us to take care of parents and elderly people with excellence.
Ramadan is the prime time to achieve Taqwa and self control. Doing any good deeds to please Allah, Zikr, and charity are increased in manifold in this holy month.
What to do if they want to fast
If our elderly relatives are able to fast, just consult a doctor and make sure they do not have any major illnesses that could be worsened by abstinence from food and drink. If any of them have diabetes, the timing of their medication and the required type of food must be carefully noted.
If they are not fit to observe fasting but intend to offer Tahajjud, wake them up happily. Serve the same food in a hotpot to them that was prepared for Suhur as their breakfast, so they take it at their convenient time. For Suhur, less spicy foods are good for digestion, e.g chicken\fish curry with veggies and rice; or any unsweetened cereal\ oatmeal with bananas, honey (those who can take) and milk.
Then we can offer Fajr in a congregation led by our father/father in law/grandfather. Other prayers also can be done in the same way depending on their health.
Preparing healthful meals
Snacks like puffed rice, bananas, crackers can be served in between breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea break. Soft khichuri with different types of vegetables can be prepared for lunch for those not fasting. Duty of serving can be on you\your spouse\ children by turn. Soft khichuri, or chicken\ meat veggie rice can be cooked in large amounts for at least 3 days and kept refrigerated. We need to spend less time in the kitchen to focus on Ibadah in Ramadan.
Building togetherness at meal times
Before Iftar after setting the table, all of the members of the family should sit together. We can ask our beloved elders to lead a munajat for the best reward of Ramadan. They will feel honored and happy while lessening loneliness and Allah will create a strong bond among the family members. Children should serve food to them with a smiling face and should refrain from screen time.
During Iftar time, nutritionists suggest avoiding fried items. Cooked gram with puffed rice, flat rice with natural yoghurt and banana, seasonal fruits and dates can be added on hot days' Iftar. Soft khichuri is also a source of nutrition, water and fiber. As self control is an important teaching of fasting, extra care should be taken not to overeat during Iftar.
As the days will be long and Iftar will be late, soup (chicken/meat/fish with veggies) will be perfect for elderly relatives including us. Then the body will be light which will add more concentration in Isha and Tarawih prayer.
Our elders are like special assets, like a book of culture and history. Allah loves those people who take care of elders. Prophet SM said," He is not of us who does not honor the elders.."
The Quran magnificently says, "Is there any reward for good (Ihsan) other than good (Ihsan)? Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?" (55:60-61)