Old Age –Is it a Boon or a Bane?

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Old means having lived or being in existence for a long period, or no longer young. It can also be thought of as an age nearing or surpassing the usual life expectancy and thus nearing the end of human cycle.

It can lead to negativism especially for those persons who have been in high positions and think they can no longer be in a commanding position, which they enjoyed for years. In other words, no longer needed.

There are several terms used to express it. Old people, the elderly, old age pensioner(OAP), senior citizen, older adults and the elders. It is difficult to define although most countries set the retirement age after 60 years, it could be 62 or 65 years. This age is also a prerequisite for availing senior social programs.

Old age is often associated with loneliness and you feel neglected or discarded. Some feel that they are not getting the same respect as before.  To add to it, people of this age often have limited regenerative properties and become more susceptible to many minor and major illnesses, which further dampens their morale.

It is a period of mixed feelings. Looking out of the window or while aimlessly walking on the road you sometimes see young women and men rushing to their workplaces in a continuous stream. Happiness brimming on their faces. It reminds you of the old days when you were in the same boat. But not anymore.

    You can get dis-heartened because very few people come to consult you. Friends and old colleagues hardly ring you, giving a feeling of uselessness. Earlier older people were respected in the society and in their family for their advice. They used to guide the younger generation. In extremes of age when you become physically incapacitated and emotionally insecure it used to be the family support which would come easily and was reassuring. Growing urbanization and a fast-moving lifestyle has aggravated the situation. Those social values have dwindled substantially. The situation is changing rapidly in this materialistic society nobody, not even your own children, have the time for you. Isn’t it a tragedy?

The Remedy:

It is how you look at it as a positive minded person.  You are your own master. There is no one to direct your activities or monitor your performance. There is no need to get up early, get ready and go to work and beat the deadline. You are free of slavery of working for somebody else. You can practice things which you like for hours and days, which you couldn’t do in your younger days. Instead of getting engrossed in the past and brood over it and feel bad there are ways to strive to live as best as possible. Some of them are:

Discovering new interests could be very interesting. Explore new hobbies, like gardening or getting plants and watch them grow. Learn cooking and make new recipe’s and enjoy new tastes. Take help of You-Tube instructions or books.

Going out every day and sitting in sunshine during winters or in shade during summer is a good way of getting over loneliness. It works wonders for emotional health. Sunshine is a mood booster and also a good source of vitamin D, which is deficient in many of us. For those elderly who find it difficult to go out, try and simulate the interior with a few plants in the courtyard and walk around it. Play some music and old melodies and feel good.

Keep smiling, it triggers friendly hormones and triggers happiness. It is not easy at times but it does set up a positive feeling. Look at your smile in the mirror. Try and maintain a sense of humor. Try and recapitulate some funny events of your past and narrate them to your friends or family members or even helpers at home.

Since seniors have more time, try to get into social activities depending on your expertise and give back to the community by helping them. A lawyer can counsel and advise the way forward to a person in need. Likewise a finance expert can help by guiding and giving important tips regarding investments. Physicians are lucky in this respect and use their expertise till late ages. Based upon their long experience they often help diagnose intricate problems or guide correctly. This is what is called giving back to the community.

Age actually is a perception and not just a number. There is a physiological age, cognitive age and psychological age. Most healthy adults feel at least 10 to 20 years younger than their actual age.  Real old age starts after 100 years. If you are between 65 and 100, you belong to middle old age. If you are fit like a fiddle- digits have no meaning. Be young at heart and ignore those who call you an old foggy, instead laugh at them. Enjoy every day of your mature age.

Take Home Message:

Getting old is preordained. It is a part of the life cycle. It can be associated with negativism if not taken in proper stride. Instead of brooding over it, it is advisable to look at its positives like the freedom you get from worldly chores. Start doing things you always wanted to do but could not. Look after your health, enjoy life and remember that real old age starts after the age of 100 years.

Founder Director, Gauri Kaul  foundation, Recipient of Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy Award

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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