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The Art of Ageing Gracefully

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By Ravi Matah

Our life span is divided into five stages – childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age and old age. During childhood, it is the parents who take care of the new born and help her grow into a healthy individual. They make sure to give her a healthy diet and provide the requisite medical care. And she is left to her own devices once she becomes an adult. It is the ups and downs of life that teaches her how to effectively tackle whatever situations may confront her.

The journey from adulthood to middle age is one of the most challenging phases in one’s life; slowly and gradually, one deals with life’s vicissitudes. One gets married, and becomes a father or mother in due course. The obligations multiply; now per force parents assume similar responsibilities to their parents when they were growing up; they must properly educate their children and ensure that they become capable of standing on their own feet soon enough. They have to get them admitted to some good schools, and also ensure that they grow into responsible young men and women. What is more worrisome is to find suitable matches for the children and also to ensure that adequate funds are available for heavy expenses that generally are required these days even in simple marriages. But then they also have to maintain their standing in their biradari, and ensure that the marriages are performed with pomp and show as per the prevalent standards in the neighbourhood.

Time, however, does not wait for anyone. It keeps on ticking and ticking. The young people of today grow into middle age with even greater responsibilities. They not only have to look after their own health but that of the health and wellbeing of the entire family. Life becomes a daily matter of survival. As a general rule, old age begins when one reaches 60. You retire if you are in service or slow down if you are in business. The post-retirement situation is comfortable so long you have your own money, funds and even property; your children too will take care of you. And God forbid, if you are financially in a stringent condition, your children too will forsake you.

Some studies have divided old people into three age segments. The elderly adults between the ages of 65 to 74 are the youngest old; the next group between ages 75 to 84 are the middle old; and beyond 85 they are considered the oldest old.

The best way to survive the common difficulties beyond this age is that persons invest their time someplace and more importantly, retain their sense of humour. Old age is the era of life when a happy and positive attitude is more important. Laughter is the best medicine, and it is absolutely necessary to stay cheerful and in good spirits. This is an essential ingredient in the art of aging gracefully.

Experts say that the keys of successful aging include accepting changes and finding meaningful activities. One should have meaningful interaction with whatever one’s hobbies are, be it reading, writing or playing games and should be totally involved in the hobby.

Apart from this, there are certain precautions one has to take in old age for one’s safety and I would like to highlight a few points here: –
· One should never bolt the door of the washroom from inside while having a bath. And one should also not stand and take a bathe even under the shower.
· In the shower area, they should have a hand bar attached to the wall close enough to hold. Ditto precautions while sitting or getting up from the toilet seat.
· Trousers or pyjamas should only be worn while sitting on a bed or a chair, and not in a standing position. When they get up from the bed, stay in sitting posture and stay 30 seconds before walking to attend to calls especially at nights. This will ensure proper blood circulation in the body.
· Never walk on wet floors or you might slip.Avoid climbing stool/chair, bench to repair/clean fans also. They should take medicines as per the schedule advised by the doctor. They should never compromise on any issue that is a matter of happiness for them.
· They should always go with their spouse to the market for any work and if they are alone at home they should not entertain any unknown people. They should be polite and soft spoken with everyone. Healthy relationships are also very important. They should always maintain a cheerful disposition, which will bring for them peace of mind, happiness and good health.

Above all, the elders should have a reasonably good amount in their saving account to cruise comfortable in the old age and not part with their life’s savings irrespective of the needs of their children. Yes, it is the duty of the elders to take care of their children but they should not be carried away by sheer love and affection towards their children and part with their life long savings so long as they are alive. However, before their death they should write down a WILL as to how they would like to distribute their savings after their demise, but so long as they are alive they should hold on to their savings/pension, etc.

Times have changed drastically. Four decades ago, children were caring and were gentle with their parents. Today, parents have to be gentle with their children because children are also busy in bringing up their own children.

Four decades ago, everyone wanted to have children but nowadays many people are afraid to have children. Earlier, marriage was easier but divorce was difficult but now it is the other way around. Four decades ago, one person worked to support the entire family and today the entire family works to support one child.

However, the best thing about the good old days was that I wasn’t good and I wasn’t old.

(Ravi Matah is a Retired Gazetted Officer from Central Government Service. He is a prolific writer, loves Cricket and keeps penning his thoughts on social issues.)