The International Day of Older Persons is observed every year on October 1 to focus on issues that affect the aged, such as dementia and the abuse of old individuals.
This is also a day when we should sit back and remember all the contributions that have been made to society by old people.
It was on December 14, 1990, that the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish this date as the International Day of Older Persons. The next year, the day was observed as a holiday. The International Day of Older Persons is similar to National Grandparents Day in the United States and Canada and also Respect for the Aged Day in Japan.
According to official figures released in 2016 by the ministry of statistics, the number of Indians over the age of 60 is at an all time high, comprising 8.6% of the country’s 121-crore population. According to Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly people (aged 60 years or above) in India, of which 63% live below the poverty line. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India says that the number of elderly people is expected to grow to 173 million in another eight years, and to 20% of the total population by 2050.
India is a country where the life expectancy is increasing fast. The life span which was only 30 years at the time of Independence has now been projected as 67 years. Thus it is very important to spread awareness amongst the youth to take care of their elders. The Govt is equally bound ,under Article 41 of the constitution of India to safe guard the interests of the Elders.
The old age brings with it many age related problems. The level of problem becomes serious when there is none to attend. Losing one’s life partner at this age causes immense problems, the main being the loneliness. 20 percent of these elders die due to loneliness. Poverty affects the elders and more so the females. The diseases are chronic in nature. The reflexes become weak. It has been established by researchers that there are nearly 125 diseases connected with old age.
Thus there is a dire need to look into the solutions to take care of such a huge number of elders in their old age.
Keeping this in mind, we need to make sure that increased attention is given to the challenges faced by elderly people. It is also imperative that we make the world a more inclusive place so that they can participate more freely in it and be an active part of our communities.
When you touch 60, breathe in the morning air, roll out the yoga mat and stretch yourself for the recommended asanas every day. Also, make it a point to go for ayurvedic head and neck massages at least once a year besides meeting your allopathic doctor for a routine master health check.
This golden brigade turns caregiver for silver-haired:
Sundera Gopalan is a superhero of sorts to seniors. She’s no caped crusader, but when this 76-year-old grandma receives a distress signal – which in this case comes as a feeble cry for help from a lonely, sometimes suicidal, senior citizen at the other end of the phone – she swoops in, pallu pinned, to save the day.
“I don’t do anything dramatic. I just engage in a conversation, crack a few jokes or take them for a walk in the park. And then I do it again. Twice a week at least for months, until they feel alive again,” says Sundera, who volunteers as a senior helping other seniors at the Dignity Foundation in Chennai, an organization helping the elderly lead active lives.
“Loneliness is a killer. I was at that point in life when my husband died. So, I can relate to seniors who feel alone. I know how to help them look forward to life again, a happier one,” she says.
With International Day for Older Persons on October 1, it’s interesting to see that several golden agers like Sundera are taking it upon themselves to help out their own. They volunteer at old age homes, elder care centres and hospitals, either on a structured basis or when the opportunity arises.
In the case of 85-year-old Vedavalli Srinivasagopalan, it’s whenever she flies in from the US to visit her daughter. Vedavalli spends her day stitching pouches, handbags and handkerchiefs, which she sells to friends and neighbours, donating the proceeds to old-age homes. Once she starts, she won’t stop, says her daughter Krishnaveni. “We worry about her straining herself, but she insists on helping as many people as she can,” she says.
For five years now, Chennai-based Udhavi, an organisation that assists elders, has been working with a group of volunteers, most of who are in their 70s, to help other seniors with everything from a walk on the beach to a temple visit, assistance at the bank, sabha hopping or a shopping spree. Says cookbook author Sabita Radhakrishna, also the founder of Udhavi, and 75 years old herself, “The idea is to help them with day-to-day activities as well as stave off loneliness. We do whatever it takes from taking them out to restaurants to arranging for meetings between elders from the same community,” says Radhakrishna.
“When you have two people of relatively the same age, there is a synergy in their interaction, which promotes a sense of wellbeing in both the caregiver and the recipient,” says psychiatrist Dr R Padmavati of the Schizophrenic Research Foundation.
Past research, such as one done in 2013 by the department of psychology, Boise State University, USA, suggests that the physical and mental health of senior citizens, and as a result their quality of life, improved when they volunteered. Another 2014 study by Baycrest Health Sciences in Canada and published online in ‘Psychological Bulletin’, found that older adults who stayed active by volunteering showed better overall health.
Disclaimer: All information, data and material has been sourced from multiple authors and is for general information and educational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your treating doctor.
The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.