Growing Old with Dignity
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REFLECTIONS -By Dr Rajan Philips email@example.com
: Old age is an irreversible fact of life. However much we resort to desperate
measures and pseudo-medical remedies, it is impossible to arrest the ravages of
time. The seven ages of man with old age as the ‘finale’ before the ‘final
exit’, as depicted by William Shakespeare in his play ‘must be lived through.
Obviously, wisdom lies in accepting the inevitable and learning to age
gracefully but endeavouring to stay young at heart as long as possible. Such
persons are revered by society for their indomitable spirit and capacity to
serve society despite their fragile and ageing body.
The iconic figure of Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, the epitome of love and
compassion, and Grandma Moses, the artist par excellence are a few remarkable
images that appear before my mind.
The elderly can live with true dignity and grace as long as they are fully
healthy, active and self reliant. But despite their great dreams they may often
find themselves in a helpless state and be forced to depend on their children,
the society and other care-givers around them.
This is where society and the younger population need to step in willingly. But,
sadly, the modern generation, preoccupied with material prosperity in a highly
competitive world finds no time or the inclination to provide the kind of care
the elderly require and deserve.
It is to highlight this burning issue and create genuine awareness about the old
that in 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 1 as the
International Day for the Elderly, and has been observed worldwide.
A distinct theme is chosen each year. “The Growing Opportunities and Challenges
of Global Ageing” is the theme for 2011. It highlights the need to provide for
the ‘independence, participation, care and self-fulfilment, and dignity of older
These noble objective assumes special significance for the simple reason that
with each passing year the number of ‘older people ‘(those above 60) keeps
swelling at a staggering rate. In fact our world is experiencing a virtual
Today there are around 600 million such persons.
The total is set to double by 2025 and is likely to touch two billion by 2050.
In simpler terms, one in every ten persons today is an elder. By 2050, this
would be one in every five persons. The implications are far reaching. In this
context, we must not forget that those who are elderly today were once young and
productive and played a sterling role in sustaining and supporting their
families and society.
They led a more Spartan and challenging life without enjoying the benefits and
comforts of advanced technology and science that the younger generation now
takes for granted.
Furthermore in many parts of the world the aged continue to contribute in new
ways to uphold the social fabric. They pass on their experience and knowledge
and take care of their grandchildren whenever possible. They are respected and
their counselling generally valued in many tradition
It is only when severe illness or other adverse circumstances render them quite
helpless that they reluctantly seek the assistance of their children or other
care-givers. When that happens if they are looked upon as a liability or burden
it is rather cruel.A sound value-based education and general awareness need to
be created in the young minds so that they accept the care of elders as a
privilege and moral responsibility.
The feeling of being loved by their children and dear ones is more vital than
any kind of material support or arrangements for a comfortable stay in an old
The Day helps us to acknowledging our debt to the elderly and renew our resolve
to do all we can to keep them in good cheer and emotional well-being,
Dr.Rajan Philips is having Ph.D in English literature. he is a motivational
speaker and freelance writer.
Articles by Dr.Rajan Philips