Friday, May 11, 2012

OLD AGE LONELINESS


Last Sunday two of my long time friends came over for lunch. We had known each other for almost 45 years. We got together after a long time, almost a year or so. On my request children of one of them, a daughter and a son – both married, came with their spouses. Their daughter has a son of about 10 years. Our children are of the same age and they all were very happy to meet each other after a long time. As I had expected small groups formed as per age, including grandchildren. We, oldies, were enjoying our chats. During our reminiscing, name of a common friend cropped up. I had not met or even spoken to him for almost 8 years as his mobile number had changed. I got his new number from them.

Next day I called him up. He was so happy and said some choicest abuses for not keeping in touch. After few minutes of normal banter, I asked him what was he doing these days. His reply has prompted me to write this post.

He told that he was thinking of shifting to some ASHRAM. He has his own house and has substantial pension to meet his needs. Only thing is that he had not married. He is of my age. He had taken care of his parents, younger brother and his children. But for the past more than 10 years he has been living alone after passing away of parents and his brother shifted out with his family. He told me that he had some close friends of his age in the locality but they too have moved out with their children, so he now feels loneliness.  I felt sad, specially that his brother had also not bothered to be of help while he had taken care of them in their time of need.

This set me thinking about loneliness at old age is becoming so common now even for those who have children. I have seen many instances of old couples living alone as children have moved to another city or even country for sake of their occupation. I have also seen many cases where old persons are with their children out of their own hometown. Those who stay with their children are lucky as they have company of children and grandchildren but only if they are given due respect which in some cases may be lacking. Those who live alone, due to children being away or not having got married, really do feel so lonely and are susceptible to all kinds of untoward happenings.  What could be the remedy for this?

In my opinion as a society, we all should understand our responsibility towards such elderly persons. Locals RWAs and Police can join hands to involve such persons in more social activities like educating children of underprivileged or taking on responsibilities of RWA functioning , make them have friendship clubs, inculcate habit in them to inform someone of their group whenever outsiders are let into the house. If possible let their children understand importance of visiting them regularly, not all at one time but in turns so that they have someone or the other with them most of the year. Even grandchildren should be encouraged to be with them whenever they can.

Well, any more suggestions?

18 comments:

Amrita Tanmay said...

आपके सुझाव सर्वमान्य है और आपने जो अकेलापन का विश्लेषण किया है वो भी आज के सन्दर्भ में बिलकुल कही है.. मुझे भी लगता है कि बुढापा की तयारी पहले ही कर लेना चाहिए और समय रहते स्वयम को किसी सामाजिक सरोकार में संलग्न कर लेना चाहिए..

Rachna said...

And, sometimes old people want to stay away from their kids even when they are welcome to stay with them. It could be because they do not wish to go away from their native town or they want their freedom. Either way, I agree that they are lonely. I have seen women involving themselves in religious meetings or satsangs and some men too. If they are hale and hearty and have some seniors closeby, they can form groups and undertake pilgrimages or trips together.

Harman said...

its very sad..this is the scariest part of old age..not everyone is lucky to be taken care by their kids..
rest In US every parents lives alone.they have no expectations from kids they find means to keep them bsy ..in libraries , parks , voluntary services n All!

Nikita said...

So True !

I have a single granparent and talk to her whenever i can...i love listening to her always

Neha said...

Very true and apt suggestions. There is a lot that can be done, if tried. It is terrible to be all alone at old age. I know of people who volunteer as teachers in schools and NGOs in their vicinity to tackle loneliness, while others take to religious activities. But as a society, there is so much that can be done for our elders.

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

It is so sad to see old people in old age houses. They don't deserve to be left alone. People should definitely be concerned about them and their health

Thinking said...

hmm...and how I am to give any suggestion...?

Since I am one busy..married off daughter who used to visit her lonely...old...70 years old mother...every day but could not live with her...used to leave her all by herself in her house...cause of the job in the morning...and now as she passed away...I am so much in agitation that why could not I denounced all the worldly affair in sake of keeping my mother happy?

And when she was alive...all that denouncing my job...life other matters were unbearable...and now...I will never get a second chance...hmmm...so sad.

Dear Jack...you have brought that pain again...which have not gone but somehow subdued for few hours...until I read your post....hmm...

And I am so so sorry for all the old people...who are alone and unhappy with their children...though Parents can not be unhappy with their children...but children left them no choice but to be unhappy about their prospect after hard work of so many years and finding them still alone...

May Allah forgives my sins...and unhappy attitude towards my mother...May Allah give her the best place near HIM. Ameen.

I don't have suggestions...but I will pray for all those who are left alone...

Jack said...

AMRITA :

JO AAPNE KAHAA WOH BILKUL SAHI HAI. HAMEIN TAYAARI KARNI CHAHIYE.
Take care


RACHNA :

I know that there are many instances where old parents wish to stay in their own house. My grandparents, both paternal and maternal, were like that. We used to keep visiting often. Take care


HARMAN :

You are so right that one should not have any expectations but isn't it too much that children for whom parents did so much should ignore them at old age? I would rather go to an old age home if I can not live alone and keep busy in some social welfare work. Take care


NIKITA :

May God bless you. Please give her as much time as you can. Take care

Jack said...

NEHA :

We all have to keep ourselves busy in something or the other to avoid being lonely at old age. Staying with children and grandchildren does take care of that to a large extent. Take care


PHILO :

I agree with you. Take care


THINKING :

You did whatever was withing your hands. You did not ignore her. There is no fault on your part. What about your siblings? I am sure she must be blessing you from heaven all the time. Take care

Rià said...

My grandparents have always had their children around...and I want to do the same with my parents...I want to be there whenever they need me. Like they say...old age is like second childhood and like kids, parents shouldn't be left alone.

Iqra said...

Yes we are also adopting such things from western society but I really feel bad for old people who are living alone.

Jack said...

RIA :

Please do give them happiness due. You can not imagine how much will they bless you. Take care


IQRA :

We need to retain our age old traditions, isn't it? Take care

Amrita said...

Its a very pertinent issue and yes there is no quick fix solution. What i have seen in Chennai is there are lots of social service activities. And there are lot of religious activities too not just prayin and stuff but cleaning temples, cleaning roads to temples etc. These keep people who are retired so busy. I am really glad how my mil keeps herself so busy. Shes dead tired by the end of the day and she really loves doing it. I wish such activities are encouraged more.
Older people could also get involved in social improvement projects. Not very big, but small things like getting involved in getting some facilities in the colony, following up with goverment agencies to get lights or water problems sorted since they have the time. I am not saying that we put everything on people of retired age, but there is still lots of areas they can contribute.
And younger generation have the responsibility to take care of them. They do need company and someone to talk to. We should treat them the same way we would like to be treat 30-35 years down the line.

Purba said...

It's not always possible for children to stay with their parents. So, it makes more sense to have a strong community around you. A community of like minded people, who you can rely on for help.

Jack said...

AMRITA :

I agree with you that there should be some activities organised by community to engage elderly persons to feel wanted and overcome loneliness as well as for elderly to take part in such activities.
Take care


PURBA :

I have already said that and that is where the community help becomes important. In this case it is all the more important. Take care

Meera Sundararajan said...

You have raised a very pertinent issue. We used to stay with my mother in law until her demise in 2009 . So I know this whole thing about the loneliness of old age. Even when there are children staying with them there is always a routine that children have which takes them away from home leaving them for the best part of the day alone. I think it would be good if there are some groups that can be formed around areas of common interest - there are already bhajan mandalis etc but something like book clubs etc. It is not fair to assume that every old person would be interested in prayer and god. There are also old people interested in murder mystery books and romantic movies. Just as there are hobby classes for children there should be something similar for the old.

Jack said...

Meera,

We, self and my wife, are with our son, dil and granddaughter. When they are all out we do feel their absence. So I spend time in reading or here while wife watches TV or is in kitchen. It is also upto us old to make best use of our time. And those who are staying alone, it would be a boon if some social circles are formed to spend time in similar company. Take care

Oldfox004 said...

Sad and scary...like my mother always telling me this before marriage...you will be left alone if you dont marry now...
yes, he can make a new family in the society or help at the ashram.

i had spent a day at an old age ashram once...a school acitivty...they found company and solace within the ashram...and above all Dignity that was somehow taken away by their children

I really dont know what to say, Uncle