With good habits, old age can be delayed but it cannot be denied.
An Arabic proverb is very incisive about ageing, "God gives nuts to those with no teeth".
Old age creeps in despite hair dyes,anti- aging creams,gluten free diet,exercise regimen and the ultimate- botox injection that smooths tell tale wrinkles.Age may be a number for the die hard optimists but it can be troublesome with very little or no personal or institutional care.
"You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred", quipped the famous auteur Woddy Allen, with his delightful bon mot.
There is an extremely lucky person, Mrs.P. who is fortunate to enjoy her sunset years.Her husband left behind a rich legacy.Her doting Sanskaari son and daughter-in law live with her. She has a large roomy mansion and a cavalcade of servants,catering to all her needs. She has her maternal home in the same city. She entertains her relatives all the time. In crisis,there are many helping hands so the son and the daughter in law have enough rest and time for themselves.
What a flawless scenario!!
Not every one is as fortunate as Mrs.P.
Three elderly couples left my neighbourhood in a short span of three months. They sold off their property to relocate to a metropolis where their children live.
All of them would have loved to stay on in their large, open house, in familiar surroundings, with their close knit circle of friends, basking in the small town rhythm.
Time,the dynamic mover, waits for none. Old age comes at a bad time indeed!
Shifting with children is often beset with difficulties. Old people are used to a certain discipline in their life. They are not able to comprehend the weekly hectic office routine and crazy weekends of their children. The compact apartments, the newness of the place and an absence of social life with their peers make them morose, dependent like parasites.
Unwanted, helpless and uncared for, most of them slide into depression, making atmosphere bleak and difficult for their loved ones too.Situation becomes worse when one of the partner dies. The companionship that the old couple share keeps them buoyant. With one partner gone, loneliness can be withering.
'The brain forgets much in old age but the knees, joints and lower back remember everything. The problem of the ageing is becoming increasingly felt because there is very little institutional care available. Ideally every city or town should have specialised geriatric centres, with day and night care. If there is such care available then it should suit all pockets.
The stigma of living in old age homes while having their wards close by may not be acceptable to the elderly or to their family members. Not everyone thinks out-of-the-box. Besides, the harsh truth in some cases is that no one wants to spend time or money on their ageing, ailing parents.
What India needs desperately in the 21st century is holistic care for the elderly, that gives dignity and restores self-esteem in their lives.
With every birthday that we celebrate, we become older. As the young get old, the old become even more infirm and dependent with the passage of time. We are aware of this inevitable universal truth but reality strikes us when we arrive at that vantage point. These fragile and trembling hands had pampered their children once. It's time for role reversal, for the young ones to take charge and do the same for them. Help should be rendered to the aged to enjoy their ripe age rather than push them into cursing it. Going gray is a privilege that will not be denied to anyone. The clock is ticking for us too!