Saturday, 6 July 2013

Living in relation: The Elderly way:

A recent visit to attend a mass marriage ceremony of lonely and elderly men and women opened a Pandora’s box of thoughts. Men and women aged above 60 but lonely due to the death of a spouse or neglected by children met and choose their companions for a living in relationship for the rest of their life. No strings attached, no liability clauses, you can choose your companion and live forever. Some couples choose not to live under a roof but to only share moments of companionship while on travel or on spending quality time together.

The greatest social threat that we face today is that of the social security of an elderly parent when they are alone. Aging is made synonymous with withdrawal from life and we make our elders a dependent, redundant and feeble human entity in the house by trying to be pseudo shrvan kumars . We approach them with an attitude of a protectionist, giving a heavy dose of instruction the moment they step out of the house or by restricting them to do household work and just spend time by reading and watching TV.  Extra expression of concern on their health, talking carefully with them, taking too much precaution while leaving them alone will only make them weak and dependent and  delicate showpieces in the house.  Our excessive considerations could be out of love or to make them feel special and valuable, but such a singular attitude makes them weak, aged or incapable rather than of confident individuals.  

The legend of Shravan Kumar, the mythological dedicated son of blind parents has been a part of traditional Indian household. Parents cherish their sons to be like shravan kumars to take care of them in their ripe age. Thanks to this tradition still in India we do not find our aged parents languish in old age homes unlike the few hapless ones put to the mercy of the caretakers.  

 In India aging is more related to the cultural mindset. The moment one touches 60, the person is regarded old i.e. not capable of doing work, need retirement from professional life etc . Children and young alike are indoctrinated to give a helping hand to old people. Young child holding hand of a healthy 60 plus is a common image cherished in literature and in Indian cinema. Oldies are expected to spend rest of their life in religious functions or similar types of activities. They should be away from the vibrant social activities. They should take rest, live with their married children, tell stories to their grandchildren and restrain from   their day to day work.

However, this type of mindset is not put into practice in reality. Majority of the elderly living with their children does not live a gratifying life; many are the victims of harassment by their own children and many feel alienated in their relationship with married children while living together. Living jointly is relentlessly marred by the issues of adjustment in life style, feeling marginalized, secluded, and ineffective.    

This is the traditional mindset on old age. Nevertheless, a genre of elderly people who have lived an independent lifestyle and believes in ageing gracefully finds difficult in fitting themselves into such a conservative mindset. They do not believe in shravan kumars tradition and culture.  For them such a living is suffocating.  Self reliant and own space is what present time elderly look forward to and strive for that. Ageing gracefully with spouse or without spouse is what a seventy plus wants. With sufficient funds, own house, friend circle and exciting travelling plans fills the life of today’s generation oldies. They would like to be in touch with happenings and developments in society. This phase of life is looked upon has rejoicing thoroughly each moment of  life which hitherto did not happen  due  to the rush for livelihood and  family responsibilities . No wonder, throughout world, in comparison to young people who are largely down with depression and worries, oldies are the happiest lot.  Perhaps how to live a fulfilling life is realized only at this stage by today’s mankind.  

The new living in relationship models among single old citizens is a step in the right direction and I was feeling OLD among a set of YOUNG 60 plus couples romancing each other.

Long live cupid:

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