Saturday, 6 July 2013

The bigger plan of life...

You are more likely to succeed if you know your strengths and weakness, your place in society and your worth to others.

Feng Menglong

Planning is essential to the landscaping of ones life. This is the most important canon of all if wisdom and maturity is to be developed, and where informed knowledge provides us the ability to accept the responsibilities we need to in life.

Old age is a terribly shunned subject and old people are often relegated to having to fend for themselves in their old age because their offsprings or immediate family have not factored their dependency needs into their lives. However old age escapes no one unless via the tragedy of an early untimely death, and so therefore it is unfortunate that people are almost always uncomfortable with this subject. Living life in the moment alone has consequences that can be very hard to overcome when the energies of youth desert us. Therefore I firmly believe that comprehending the realities of aging, as an evolving process of life,  becomes the keystone to a safe future for every individual.

Addressing what we require to offer as appropriate governance to the geriatric years of our lives necessitates that each of us structure and plan the life that we desire to live with considered deliberation, especially if we choose to remain active in our careers or professions unless hampered by dementia.  Therefore it becomes paramount to have secure support systems in place, way ahead of time, that respect and nurture these formulated plans; and which are dependable and a surety for one to bank on. 

Being solely responsible for my parent’s wellbeing since my twenties, I have witnessed first hand the flaws of senior citizens who avoid planning for their old age. My parents were sensitive about the issue of aging and hid the truth of the inevitable behind the closed doors of their emotional sensitivity towards the subject. They had an unrealistic assumption that they would be able to remain independent of aided living assistance and believed they would not require monitored attention from me for their needs.  And so it fell to me to create a system of care-giving when the time occurred and it was only because of my mulish anticipation that I was able to adapt immediately to the requirement of the time. Communication is therefore a must as it creates the necessary synergies of bonding with learning experiences that benefit everyone if a tapestry of understanding is woven within a family.

Turning 50 four years ago I have begun to address this issue for my own future as a senior citizen. It has been interesting to view the varying reactions I have received from both family and friends regarding my insistence to not fight shy of expressing my views and anxieties about my future. Planning the modalities of my life two decades from now is essential if I am to preserve the productivity of my energies in my old age. If I don’t I will become an encumbrance to my loved ones which my pride and arrogance will not permit.  Friends and family who have family members who are aging find this communication of immense value as it provides a common space to examine how to approach the changes that aging ruthlessly brings with it. Also in India there are no longer the privileges of a domestic labor force that previously stepped in to look after the aged in the absence of the family. 

Today there are aided living spaces available in India. However they cater more for the rich Indian and the NRI’s. A time will come when this facility will become more reasonably priced with the acute demand that I foresee us as a nation requiring. Our youth today do not always prescribe to the traditions of the joint family and so the Indian nuclear family will shortly find itself out on a limb in matters of familial coexistence. Perhaps the concept of the commune may need to be revisited as a viable option of interdependence. Ideas of friends buying properties together in gated communities, or collective living becoming the alternative to the joint family are ideas that must be built upon today to meet with the reality of the coming generations aging and having not to compromise on their own options of fulfillment.

At the end of the day the cycle of life must be nurtured till the end, where the elderly are embraced by dignity and grace, and above all supported by love and consideration at all times. 

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