Advanced Age: A Boon or Bane?

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.

 

 

 

 

By Perdita Hilda D'Silva
Perdita Hilda D'Silva is a retired professor of Economics. She has served Milagres College Kallianpur for thirty-eight and half years as an Associate Professor, and Vice-Principal. She is a member of the Diocesan Family life Council of Udupi Diocese and a resource person.
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Comment on this article

  • Sr.Susheela Monteiro, Deralakatte

    Sat, Jul 31 2021

    Thank you very much for the inspiring article dear Prof Hilda Madam.You have given beautiful tips to grow gracefully.Surely it will be of great help to many.

  • Anil Danthy, Shirva

    Mon, Jul 26 2021

    Well written , apt and timely.. Good Job madam.

  • James Rodrigues, Udupi/Bangalore

    Mon, Jul 26 2021

    Dear Madam, Your article is very much timely, touching and eye-opening. Thank you so much. God bless you. Please keep writing.

  • Precy Menezes, Kallianpur/Toronto, Canada

    Mon, Jul 26 2021

    Dear Hilda Madam, You have written a great article, Informative and encouraging . Thank you & God Bless !

  • Mohan Prabhu, Mangalore/Ottawa, Canada

    Sun, Jul 25 2021

    Thank you for this eye-opening article, beautifully written. Apart from a couple of points (e.g. devotion), I am in full agreement. Even at the age of 90 plus, I continue to be active,especially intellectually, though the body is becoming weaker by the day.- and my family is so supportive. God has blessed them, as they know the time is not far away for them to reach my age and be in my shoes. A well written article, professor. God bless you and your family.

  • maurice menezes, Udupi/Dubai

    Sun, Jul 25 2021

    Very good encouraging article .

  • Irita & Bhavna, Kallianpur

    Sun, Jul 25 2021

    Beautfiully written, brings out the situation of senior citizens clearly and good tips to live a graceful old age.

  • Ambrose Pereira, Bajpe

    Sun, Jul 25 2021

    We both are seniors in the 65 to 75 age group. Observing the world around us all through our life we jotted for ourselves some do's and don'ts to continue with a happy life especially when we are old and retired. In addition to some great pointers in the article above, we have listed a few useful points from what we learnt from observations around us, we hope shall be useful to some. First, tell the kids that as parents, our karma/responsibility is limited to helping them to get educated. Everything else the kids have to work hard and earn for themselves. Second: The wealth we have earned and accumulated during our lifetime is for us and for our old age survival till we both die. Third: Make a will such that all the wealth passes out to the second partner when the first one passes away and then to the kids when both are gone. Fourth: discuss the budgets and financials with each other (husband and wife) regularly, like once a month. Fifth: Don't give up on daily "pillow-talk". A different pillow-talk than when we got married but an intimate, authentic, unguarded conversation about everything that occurs between and around us as partners. Daily communication between partners is very, very important because when the world has moved on including the kids, the one left by our side is our partner. Sixth: Take utmost care of each other, more as the years move on. This is very, very important because through marriage we contracted to take care of each other ("....in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part"). Seventh: Accept each other as we are, our strengths and weaknesses and all. Ignore minor mistakes and don't dwell on small issues (like "not making the bed" or "spilled coffee on floor and did not clean", etc). Just think these small issues as part of life and carry-on because a lot of things we assume as routine and normal during our earlier years become difficult either because of failing memory or old-age clumsiness. (continued)

  • Ivan Saldanha, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 24 2021

    Dear Ma'am, Prof.....Your article is fair and should provoke constructive on going steps and plans. As far as old age homes are concerned, there are things that need study , regulation and correction. The community running these homes and receiving suitable payments, need to be monitored by an ombudsmen to check the systems followed and correct the position. When the managements of these homes are left to the fancies of the ego of CEO like persons it's bound to be unsatisfactory inside. Absolute power breeds corruption. A check can find that some institutions are run for the welfare and profit of the management and workers. Workers too are victims often - but the aged and ailing are the real scapegoats and worst sufferers. Community and Govt must have a role.

  • Irene Sequeira, Derebail/USA

    Sat, Jul 24 2021

    Well written Madam which is quite interesting for us senior citizens Keep writing

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Sat, Jul 24 2021

    Very well written our dear, Prof. P Hilda D'Silva, your thoughts for all people who are bound by the Natural Law that when they have closed-up their individual lives have to give an account of their spent life-span in this world wherein they stayed for a while, to the Omnipotent Creator. Yes, as you rightly said, one has to be extra vigilent as they move on in age. Some persons are fortunate to have their children and childrens' children as well as close relatives and friends. Unfortunately, every case is different since so many years now on account of better pastures elsewhere in life. Therefore, every one does not get the priviledge of this type of happiness in latter part in life. However, I have noticed that those parents who have brought up their children well in God Fearing and Loving way, are normally come to the help of their ageing parents and stay by their side. May God Bless you for your thoughts !!

  • Jacintha Dsouza, Bondel/Newyork

    Sat, Jul 24 2021

    Very beautiful article by Professor Perdita Hilda D'Silva . The content & facts written in the article are a true eye opener for all the people who are advancing towards the retirement . We live in the tech era the millennial offspring's are growing self-centered and don't care attitude. So prepare yourself well for tomorrows future

  • Renita, Kallianpur/London

    Fri, Jul 23 2021

    Beautifully written and very informative article. Timely and relevant and thought provoking.

  • Dr Maria Pais, Manipal

    Fri, Jul 23 2021

    Good article and very informative about advance age. Keep writing Prof Hilda madam


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