all about elders





 Senior Citizens, that's not us                   

                                               Javeria Kaleem





Even at an old age, you can remain young at heart.

"Why don’t you rest grandpa/ma?" is the oft-heard phrase in many households. Well, your middle-aged parents may be pleased to hear that… but no, not your grandparents. They would only love to be busy that is, actively participate in family affairs in other words. Telling them to rest or relax somehow sounds as though they cannot understand how the modern world works and so shouldn’t try their hands at it.

Youngsters should learn to take it easy

It is good that people are concerned that their elders may slip and fall in the bathroom or their blood pressure may rise. But what is bad is getting obsessed about it and stopping elders from handling anything. In some places people do not encourage elders to learn new things because they fear it would be embarrassing if they fail. For God’s sake, don’t treat them as kids. They can think, judge and decide what is good for them. Offer help only when asked for or when you really feel they cannot do it on their own.

Not so sure yet?

Remember the Indian movie Saaransh? Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi play an old couple, looking forward to a happy retired life with their only child. Unfortunately fate has something else in store for them. Their son expires in a road accident. The devastated parents feel everything is over for them. Life goes on; later they gather courage to provide shelter to a young couple and help them unite in love, amidst all odds. The movie sends a strong message to the audience, that people may grow old but not their will or zest for life.

Look around and you will find more evidence. Today’s grandparents love to appear competent. They keep reading & asking how to use the home computer or the vending machine at the shopping mall. Elders are ready to hold your hands and get into crowded trains during a shopping spree; they even go for long walks and take care of their food habits. Often they surprise us by suggesting or gifting a new hair conditioner, a pair of jeans or a music album.

Have you noticed?

Senior citizens of the new millennium can no longer expect the luxury of being taken care of, say like their forefathers. Instead they are under stress. They feel the need to prove they are useful and can make valuable contributions to the family. Taking into account the failing memory and weak muscles, it must be difficult for them to cope. Further city life doesn’t provide them fresh air, pleasing landscape or attentive people to cool their ruffled nerves, even. It is easier to give up and say "No, I have done enough and now it is your turn to take care of me" But they rarely say so.

Surprisingly, many elders take life in the right spirit. They stretch themselves, only because they don’t want to rust and be sidelined. And they pursue various activities ignoring even rude comments from some careless youngsters, although it hurts. Look into their eyes and you will find only one desire…they want to grow and move forward with you.

Here’s what some real life grandparents have been doing… One of my friend’s grandmother has made a trip to the UK and is now in the US. And mind you, she bears all expenses herself from her pension. The lady brings back vivid anecdotes and memorable gifts to her grandkids. Isn’t her indomitable spirit to live life queen-size and not bother kids or grandkids, amazing?

My grandma (in her 70s) lives independently even though she could have stayed with any of her five kids. She manages the household. She even reads a lot and watches television news to keep abreast of the times from a remote corner of this world.

Youths should spend some time with these precious people; call them up, if they are not staying with you, and ask them how they are doing or feeling. Take them out for a treat, if they are living with you. You may gift them a book or tickets to a nice play. They will show your concern more than anything else. You should learn to appreciate their good points, be it looks or caring nature. Express your gratitude openly. Grandparents thrive on compliments as much as we do.

Last but not the least, get your grandparents out of the rut, in case they have just been taking care of family members and doing nothing else. Encourage them to pursue their deep interests, may be writing, traveling, running a hobby class, catching up with old friends’ whatever.

Help them find a life of their own.

Courtesy: Javaria Kaleem