By Soumya Priyadarshini
Edited by Liz Maria Kuriakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Life is all about gaining experiences, isn’t it? By the time, till, you’ve almost had all the experiences in life, you’ve a new experience to taste – your old age.
After having seen more than half a century of winters and springs in your life, you’ve your wrinkles, your grey hair to tell tales of the ages you’ve seen; of the time you’ve seen changing.
It’s the time when the responsibilities of your family, children etc are taken off your shoulders because you’ve new burdens to bear; burdens of your degrading health, of your weakening tooth, of your diminishing eyesight.
It’s the time when various deformities creep in, so you shouldn’t add deformities of vice to it.
It’s a pious age where others usually look at you with sympathy and respect. Now, suppose in this phase of your life, you’ve struggle to make, a battle to fight – to fight for your survival, for your existence of the remnant part of your life. It’s not easy! You’re weak and crippled and you’ve to grapple for bread. What then?
We then say, you’ve a cursed old age. After working all your youth, while your skin withered away. Nothing can be more painful than to learn that it’s all you’ve to repeat to live hand to mouth. It’s sad to see frail hands working or the limping legs running to buy themselves their daily meal and a dose of their regular medicine.
I wonder what brings them here.
Out of my curiosity once I asked an old working shopkeeper, “Why do you work here? Why don’t you just go and take rest?”
To this he smiled showing off some of his steel teeth, he answered, and “This is what I do to keep myself busy. An empty mind is a devil’s workshop. With no work and no thoughts, with less of physical comfort, you’re sometimes bound to unknown mental disorders. Over time you may even begin hating yourself, forget of your kin.”
He spoke of his wisdom, of the past experiences he had learnt from. Well, this case is different from those old people who are forced to work, who are forced by the circumstances. That is a sensitive thing to talk about and we shall surely discuss it someday later.
But, today I’m here with other problems of old age, a problem that anyone may face due to lack of tasks and responsibilities.
Say, even if you’ve enough things you need, but still there is an inadequacy, a missing companion or happiness. What then?
Human beings are gregarious species, we love company not just food and objects to be happy. This is the biggest problem why people in their old age tend to become sad – the loss of company. They tend to become aloof, and if left just like that for a period of time, they may dangerously become agoraphobic, they may not just be grumpy but scared of people too, scared of crowd and socialism. It is the most neglected and common problem of every household.
Why do people become like this in their old age?
A simple answer to this is the lack of growth. Development of any kind – social, mental, emotional, physical, keeps you going and saves you from the illness generated due to stagnation. It’s not just your old age, it’s the moment when you stop learning, when you stop thinking, when you stop smiling – you’re trapped with problems.
Several disorders ranging from slight mood swings, senility and crabby, bolshie behaviour to severe diseases like Alzheimer’s etc may catch you.
Would you like to suffer from additional mental disorders knowing that you already have various health problems? Of course, you won’t like.
This is what I want to say, don’t let your life stop because of certain physical restrictions, keep learning, keep growing even when you’re old.
I’ve seen an old man who owns a shop in our hostel area; he worked happily there in his shop till his daughter worked with him there. But soon after she got married, he felt alone. He closed his shop for a good number of days. And now, though he comes to the shop daily but he has become grumpy and irritated. The longing for his company, his happiness, his daughter.
Every time I see my grandparents; I wonder what I will do when I grow old. People keep a lot of options, like book writing, travelling the world etc. This is a smart thing to do, options should be made keeping in mind the physical weakness that may become stronger with coming years. Reading should be a man’s best hobby too. Books are the best solution to learn and beat the boredom simultaneously.
Apart from that, I’d like to give a suggestion to the family members too, that they should treat the older members of the family with respect and care.
Life is like a movie and bloopers are expected even from the best actors. So being old, they may not make silly mistakes related to life choices but due to their slow advancement and health problems they may make faux pas. It’s your duty to correct it with love and care, the way they did when you were a child.
Include them in your social gatherings; get them acquainted to your generation and technology.
This way, the inevitable old age won’t be a problem anymore.
The secret to a happy old age is keeping the flames of enthusiasm and the spirit of a child alive in your heart. This is a secret to feel young forever.
Old age is not just a record of one’s life; old age is a new life in itself. And, the saying Old is Gold, will be true for a human being growing old too.
To conclude, I can’t find any line better than the ones quoted by Victor Hugo, “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
Soumya is currently pursuing B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering. She holds prior experience as an editor at Srijan (her college’s annual magazine). She is a brilliant singer, an avid reader and she spends most of her time pondering over various issues which often inspires her to write. Usually she can be found surfing the internet and reading almost any impossible thing in the world right from biology to astrology. She wants to serve the nation and she feels that writing is the most effective and the easiest way to work on all problems and eradicate them. She believes in learning something new from whatever she experiences. She is extremely excited about writing for a large number of enthusiastic readers here and she promises to deliver her best. She really appreciates constructive criticism. You can reach her at her blog (hearabuzz.blogspot.in) or her email id ([email protected]).