Life beyond sixty
A report released in April 2016 said that the number of citizens over the age of 60 jumped 35.5 per cent — from 7.6 crore in 2001 to 10.3 crore in 2011.This is also a record high since 1950 and is almost twice the rate at which the overall population grew. In the same period — 2001 to 2011 — India’s overall population grew by 17.7 per cent, according to official figures. The number of Indians over the age of 60 has hit an all-time high, accounting for 8.6 per cent of the country’s 121-crore population, according to latest official figures.
“The trend clearly reveals that ageing will emerge as a major social challenge in the future.”
With increasing longevity, the requirements of aged persons are also changing. Many senior citizens are now living alone as their children are settled abroad or are living in far off places and cannot therefore, provide any physical assistance which most of them require at this stage. Some of them develop depression due to isolation and complete lack of psychological and physical support from their relatives. We, therefore, need to introspect seriously about the emerging trends so that we can live a happy retired life.
We were born a small child. Our parents brought up us with lot of love and affection. They made a lot of sacrifice to send us to schools and colleges and helped us to be what we are. But the parents who brought up us with so much love and affection have now grown old. It is disappointing to find parents craving for justice from their own children. Their life and property are unsafe in the hands of those whom they had nourished throughout. The problem is more acute among the rich and the affluent. They are ready to spend over their parents but do not have time to care for them. We can find many aged persons from affluent families languishing in the elder’s home. The aged parents from the lower income group have greater emotional protection. They respect their parents and take their advice in the family matters. Despite economic hardship, they find time and money to serve their parents. The situation is mostly different in affluent families.
The first and foremost requirement is a healthy life. It is essential for people of all ages. But it is a great asset for senior citizens. We may avoid illness by developing healthy habits. Regular consultation with Doctors and proper medication is a must. Besides a balanced diet also helps in maintaining good health. It is not important how long we live. But we should live a healthy and self-dependent life. If we are physically incapacitated, we become a liability for our relatives. Nobody has time to attend the ill and incapacitated persons. Even rich and affluent persons, who are physically unfit, are left out at senior citizen homes.
To have a respectful retired life, one should be physically and financially self-dependent. Good health and physical fitness is essential for happy life. We may enjoy our money only as along we are physically fit. Otherwise it will be of no use. Therefore, we should undertake regular exercise. The type of exercise may vary from man to man depending upon his health conditions.
Deteriorating health conditions are major hazard for senior citizens. Our health system is not conducive to the requirements of the elderly persons. Although rules are there in place to give them preferential treatment so that they do not have to stand in que, but this is hardly practiced. I myself had to fight several times to get this facility while standing in que at CGHS counters. I even filled application under RTI to elicit legal provisions and their implementation being done at the CGHS counters. I got replies from several CGHS centres in Delhi, but its implementation was always challenged by other visitors who would not wait rather fight with the elderly persons if they get out of turn treatment.
One day I had gone to book a registered post at the Lajapat Nagar post office. I saw an elderly person requesting the counter clerk to book his post out of turn as he was a senior citizen. This led to lot of quarrels with other customers who would not buzz. I tried to support the man fighting for the right thing but even the postal authorities remained passive and did not listen to the genuine request of the elderly person who ultimately had to wait for about half an hour to get his work done.
Everybody who is young must grow old. There is no alternative to this. But we can certainly make a difference by adopting right attitude. The first and foremost requirement for a happy life is self-satisfaction. We must thank God for whatever we have got in our life. We may thank him for gifting us with children who are self-dependent by now, for good houses that we have built and even for good health that we possess.
We keep on earning throughout our life. This is the time when we can enjoy our hard-earned money. There are people who keep saving money even when there is hardly time left to utilize them. Many of them are heard saying that they did not have avenue to spend. If that is so, we may gift away a portion of our wealth for the welfare of the poor and needy persons. Keeping money just locked in the bank brings nothing except interest. If we can spend additional money and resources for the public welfare it may give us lasting peace of mind.
Property, name, fame and the entire material things which we have acquired during our life time are bound to go. Everybody who came to this world ultimately died without any exception. We are also in the same que. It does not mean that we should stop doing anything and everything and sit idle waiting for death to come. That will be too much, but we must not forget the ultimate truth of life. If we just keep in mind and weigh for options before us in crucial moments of life, we shall not only be in peace with ourselves but will also do a lot of good to humanity. Unfortunately, we cling to the past and try to regain something already lost. We should get rid of useless material possessions and live with the minimum so that the journey back to home is without riders. We need to learn and understand sayings from Kabirdas-“jas ko tas dhar dinhi chadariya”.
The problem with us is that we get attached with every small thing that we come across during the long journey of life with the result that such things instead of adding to happiness in our life become a source of trouble. We remain mentally involved in protecting things which are sure to go. This disturbs peace of mind. The question is:” What should be done then?” The answer lies within us. We should try to hand over authority to the next generation at the right moment. I quote a verse in Sanskrit:
Prathame naarjitam vidya,dvitiye naarjitam dhanam,Tritiye naarjitam dharmam,chatirtham kim krisyate””meaning thereby that one should acquire education till the age of twenty-fifth earn livelihood/wealth till the age of fifty, then should involve in welfare measures, religious work otherwise nothing can be done at the end?
Life has its own circle. Every child grows to become adult and ultimately becomes an old man before he leaves the world. Very few people are not lucky and may die young or even earlier. We are lucky that way to be able to live long. But we must not forget that there is no exception to death. The best solution for something which cannot be changed is to accept it. That should be the case with life and death. We must accept it and live happily. Persons growing old should develop detachment with things around.
We must develop faith in God. A person who believes in Him will be free from fear of any kind. Fear of death or for that matter eventualities of life which are not of our liking vanishes once we integrate ourselves with God. We are never alone! He is always there to guide us during difficulties of life. Fearlessness gives tremendous strength. It brings out our hidden energy and makes us feel strong.
You have been struggling throughout . Now it is time to relax and enjoy little time that you have at your possession in engaging with yourself. Your hobbies and personal interests should dominate your daily routine. No need to put alarm in the clock. No need to put too much restriction on what to eat and what not. Even if it means slight stomach disorder, do not mind. Please go ahead with menu of your choice. After all, what is the purpose of living too long, if we do not enjoy it!
We can live meaningful life even beyond sixty. We can involve ourselves in welfare work as per our test and capacity. There are many such avenues. Persons interested in teaching can hold free classes to educate the poor children living in slums. The Government hospitals provide another venue for serving the ailing persons . Many patients and their wards keep moving here and there for want of appropriate knowledge about facilities available at the hospital. We may utilize our time and resources to help such needy persons. These are only a few examples but individuals can find much more depending upon their nature, and situation.Such activities besides keeping us engaged, also provide self-satisfaction. We must keep ourselves socially involved and adopt an optimistic attitude .Above all,we must integrate ourselves with well being and happiness of others. This will make our old age really worth living!