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?