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Monday, 2 November 2009

Old age Blues

Off late, I have been highly disturbed by the plight of old people and I keep worrying about my own old age. Will I age gracefully or will I be a vegetable? Every palm reader has informed me of ripe old age, but would I like to live too long?? I believe they are cursing me. What else should I say? If I were to live to be very, very old, will I be as healthy as I am today? Not that I am perfectly healthy today, but I have got so used to living with continuous pain all my life that I cease to care.

But the pain I see in the senior people's life puts me into a depression mode. The other day, I was talking to this 65 year old woman. In her youth she worked as a lecturer of History and then graduated as an accountant in her brother's export house. Five years ago, she retired and has been depressed since then. With her deteriorating eye sight, she cannot read, her frail health (arthritis) has stalled her day-to-day activities. The only healthy organ in her body is her tongue, which is the source of sorrow to her happiness and to others too. She complains that nobody ever spends much time with her and she finds her days, way too long. I suggested old age home to her, where she could find company with her like-minded people but her family members were aghast by such suggestion.

In India, old people require too much attention and only a dedicated volunteer is able to give that kind of attention. But in times like these, there is scarcity of dedicated volunteers too. In Indian society, it is a disgrace to sent away your aging parents to an old-age home as a result the personal life of family members suffers. One of my close friends had to resign from her steady and secure job (of teaching special children in Dubai) to take care of her ailing mother who is suffering from Parkinson's disease and her father, who cannot see clearly. Her life revolves around her parents; her dedication towards them is amazing. It requires lot of sacrifices, she has neither any social life, nor movies, nor late nights, nor long walks alone by the sea-shore, nor does she have time to read a book! Many times, I see her highly depressed and I suggest her to do some short term course so that she can keep herself up-to-date, but she has no time to learn or attend any workshop.

In Europe it is different. During my regular visits to Spain, I find old people happy and enjoying every moment of their lives. I meet them at the beaches, at the clubs, and even at beauty parlors. They take good care of themselves, live on their own and are fashionably dressed. Some of them even have a novio(boyfriend) The state looks after their needs and they are treated like royalty. They have active senior citizen groups who go regularly on state sponsored trips. Even the sick and weak one is well cared for. The family members don't have to sacrifice their personal lives to volunteer their help. Last year, when I was admitted in the hospital for my broken arm, I was sharing a room with an old woman. Her laughter was so contagious that it had nurses and care takers in splits.

I am not saying that all old people in Europe are cheerful and all old people in India are depressed. It's just the attitude of the people. There were some sad ones there too who sat by their window, gazing at the empty street but those were very few. They are not like Indians, whose second nature is to worry and take unnecessary stress of things they cannot control and whine in self-pity over their incapability. European are more open and receptive. Maybe, it's the clean air, good food and quality of life style which keep them cheerful, the acceptance of living independently and not taking unnecessary stress of the family who are grown-ups now, or/and, of letting go of the responsibility of the household and a desire to enjoy the rest of the life in peace.

I don't wish to live in Europe, I like living in India, but that is the attitude I wish to maintain when I come of age. But can we live with that kind of attitude in India? Can we really live a stress free life?

Do you think old age is a curse???? What would you do to make your own old age interesting????

1 comment:

  1. Pushpa, I think it is a general social attitude. Old people in India expect to be taken care of. Often times as payment for having reared their children. In the West, independence is valued more. Of course these are societal generalizations, so of course it is possible to live as one wants wherever one chooses to. However, not following the herd may have its consequences.


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