Old Age Issues


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

When a person is young and has to be active in the job he is engaged in, he sometimes feels ‘It would be wonderful if he can relax like some old age neighbours’. The person sees some old age neighbours who seem to be relaxed and content and not worried about any deadline for completing a job or duty.

Most of these active young persons become old after some years and then they learn that even if they do not have deadlines for finishing or completing some assignment, there are other issues that they have to confront with.

The problem now is how to adjust to a situation where there may be no deadlines, but then how to learn to relax in the time that seems to hang heavy on them. They get up early or rather they feel that they cannot sleep as long as did earlier and then how to keep busy during the day.

One activity they start doing is to meet their neighbours and friends either by going to their homes or visiting some common place like a market or a restaurant and spending time with them. This activity soon becomes a burden — how to enjoy being with them over long periods. What to discuss with them or relate what they have done the previous day becomes monotonous. The problem is how to converse meaningfully with your friends who also have become old and do not have anything exciting to talk about.

Touring some nearby places — a mountain or a hill becomes an interesting place to visit. One takes photographs of such places to show to one’s children or some friends. This keeps the elderly visitors happily busy for some time. What to do after this ? Some people who are keen, find out some places, in addition to a zoo, where one can see tigers or elephants or other animals, and this becomes an interesting method of beginning to appreciate wildlife. A century or a half century earlier, some people could shoot some wild beasts and display the heads of such animals in some prominent room in their homes. This is not permitted now. One can see wildlife and shoot some photos with their cameras, not with their guns.

With the above restrictions, I asked a neighbor, how he keeps busy. He answered that he has learnt to complete sudoku puzzles which not only keeps him busy but also is mentally an interesting and challenging activity. In many countries including India, active politics has become fairly common. So another activity is to participate actively  in some political activity by contesting for some common seats or at least hold demonstrations in favour of some political party and its contestants.

I put the same query to another person who is active in his neighbourhood. He answered that he visits homes of several people and helps them in buying some items for their kitchens–vegetables, eggs, milk, etc. He also said that he finds that many of his friends acquiring medicines and storing them in their chambers.

But what medicines should be bought or acquired? They did not give a proper answer but somehow over time, they had acquired basic knowledge of the common medicines, their properties and how they should be consumed. Apparently they had learnt about several common medicines and their usage. In fact my friend went on to say that it would be difficult for any elderly person not to acquire basic knowledge about common medicines and their use.

Another question that came to my mind — do elderly people regret their old age and feel sad that their youth ended rather quickly? In fact that appeared to be so with several elderly persons. However they were frank to admit that they had a great time when they were young but they were not unhappy with their present age. However,  they said, one had to be careful with their bodies that often suffered from several pains and aches and caused distress and discomfort even if they did not fall ill.

What I have written above is in a nutshell some characteristics of old age and how people react to it. One thing that became clear by seeing elderly persons and talking to them, was that old age is not a curse but one had to be careful to cope up with it.

Old age is not the same for everyone. Some people become authors or musicians or politicians at old age. Whatever you may become, just be honest and lead a good life without fear or distress. One could even make a small poem and enjoy it or at least not be burdened by an inevitable phase of life.

Old age do not frighten me
I don’t welcome you 
But I know how to deal with you
Just be kind when you visit me
And I will be careful with you


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 12 Jun 2023.

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