July 23, 2021
Our globe is a beautiful place to live in. Our precious life, a single chance to enjoy, observe, contemplate and live. Aren’t we all lucky to pass through this world, leaving behind our footprints for our family and friends to emulate? Variety is the fundamental rule of our universe, the scenic beauty adorned by different species and humans too. The crown of creation is the human being a babe, a child, a teenager, youth, adult and the senior citizen. Generally people above 60 years of age are senior citizens. A senior citizen myself, I am happy to express my views on senior citizens at a time when our Holy father Pope Francis has given a call to celebrate July 25 as a senior citizens Sunday.
There was a time when our society could boast of peaceful happy joint families, senior citizens holding a place of importance as heads of families. They were respected and feared. Their words were law and stories of wisdom always savoured. Today in nuclear families, senior citizens are often cornered and laughed at. Ageing is treated as a long and unpleasant illness rather than a natural phase of life.
A big question before us today - have senior citizens become obsolete in a family? Is society, family complete without them? Today’s youth will surely age tomorrow. Life is a circle- what goes around has to come full circle. If we glance around us, aren’t our administrators, politicians, doctors, scientists, CEO’s, health workers mostly senior citizens filled with expertise? A study titled “60 plus is no age bar” reveals the most interesting facts about senior citizens. Accordingly, a study in America has found that the most productive age in a person's life is 60 to 70 years. The supporting facts are:
- The average age of CEO’s in Fortune 500 companies is 63
- The average age of pastors of hundred biggest churches in America is 71
- Average age of Popes is 76
- Politicians and Administrators all over, are mostly between the age of 55 years to 70
- Scientists and Innovators have gifted the world with so many inventions and innovations in their productive and mature age span.
Unfortunately for us, though we call ourselves cultured, modern, educated, enlightened senior citizens are abused, beaten, starved and threatened by their own children. Poverty, inadequate social security, greed of family members, miserable conditions in senior citizens homes or old age homes make the twilight years of the elderly living hell on earth.
We the elderly need to cultivate a positive attitude, enjoying every second of the gifted time at our disposal, amidst adversities. Here are a few tips for us to follow and practice:
1. Joy and Humour - In simple words, let us not be boring old people whom youngsters just like to avoid. Our association with diverse groups should be a meeting of pleasure and fun. Just because we are advancing in years, we need not die each day while we are still alive.
2. Health is our wealth - To remain healthy we need to eat to live and not live to eat, keeping the mind fit and healthy by meditation, reading and mind games. Body needs exercise, the easiest form of exercise is brisk walking. Regular health checkups, drinking & smoking to be controlled. Above all, a happy disposition is a strong medicine to the mind and body.
3. Staying active - With age, lethargy and weakness are our constant companions. As we have so much advancement in technology, an open mind to learn new things, games on our mobile phones, maintaining a regular time table to stay active will definitely lengthen our lifespan.
4. Spiritual food - Prayer, meditation, Bible and reading of religious literature, attending daily mass for us Catholics, rosary do nourish our body and soul.
5. Hobbies and diverse interests - In western countries, public libraries provide so many activities like knitting, tailoring, dancing, public speaking, writing and reading, music to senior citizens. They indulge in gardening, debating, walking in groups to lead a purpose filled fruitful life. Cultivating a hobby to utilise our time I feel is a priority.
6. Holiday and travel - Here. I refer to the most neglected aspect of our lives i.e. the lack of financial planning and the sole purpose of saving for the children. With all the changes in the family fabric and society, it is very essential for us to have retirement planning, holiday and travel. An open mind to experience and enjoy new places and environment is the need of the hour for us, elders.
7. Healthy bank balance - As mentioned earlier, our responsibility is to make our children self-sufficient. For our life we should plan to live with comforts and also recreation. A major reason for abuse and harassment of senior citizens is the absence of bank balance.
8. Avoiding Envy and Gossip - Envy can be a disease which will affect both physical and mental health. Compared to those who have done better in life, indulging in gossip about them will turn precious moments of life into a living hell. We senior citizens can enjoy life by counting our blessings.
9. Minimum or no interference - We, senior citizens in active life might have been top bosses, administrators and educationists. But once retired, we are just human beings - grandparents and parents in a family. It is extremely difficult to suppress our ego and importance. But a big and difficult lesson is to find our place following the path of non-interference or least interference. Only then we can live in the hearts of our loved ones.
10. Death, the fact of life - Finally when it is time to meet the Creator, we should go with the sense of fulfilment and satisfaction that we have lived a full life without regrets, sorrow and suppressed grievances.
Aging is beautiful. Just as a busy day brings happy sleep, let the twilight years prepare us to age gracefully and have a peaceful death to wake up in the next world which is our permanent home.