Shedding the Baggage

(Sreenath H S)

The senior population in India is steadily rising. Unlike in the west, where the state takes responsibility for the welfare of the elderly people, the elderly in India have to fend for themselves. Of course, the traditional Indian joint family system and, to some extent,traditional-Indian social values do come to the aid of these people in India and make up for total lack of support from Government. But a host of factors such as nuclear families, rising affluence of senior citizens, the desire among the elderly for independence and personal space have, of late, prompted senior people to opt for specialized senior communes, where their needs are taken care of by dedicated service providers. These communes also, at the same time, provide them with the much-needed companionship that is sadly lacking in regular residential developments. This blog discusses various issues that matter to and affect senior people. The author of this blog Sreenath H S is the promoter of Sree Senior Homes that develop luxury retirement communes in Karnataka, and promote senior communities in India and provide senior care. Sreenath H S is also a published author and a public speaker. His published works include Sir.M Visvesvaraya – His Economic Contribution and Thought, Partition and other Divisive Issues, Secularism and National Identity and a numerous essays on topics ranging from literature to litterateurs, law and architecture

Shedding the Baggage

Senior years are great. But for the nagging issues of health and the inevitable dip in energy-levels, senior years are like the years of childhood – carefree and fun-filled.

With all the responsibilities and strife — providing for the family, payment of mortgages, building of a career and the associated rat race — gathered into the past, and it is (in the phrase made popular by airlines) time to sit back and enjoy.

But, sadly, most senior people find it difficult to ‘sit back and enjoy’.

I find most of them negative and suspicious. The reason is not far to seek.

They find it difficult to say anything positive or good about anyone, for they wrongly think that a kind word or a word of praise from them might be exploited by others, and they, as a self-defense mechanism, become suspicious of everyone and everything. This attitude, needless to say, keeps them unhappy.

The other reason that stops them from being happy is that they still link their importanceandrelevance to the past – the positions they held, the power they once wielded, the perks the,enjoyed — and happiness to the future, not realizing the obvious truth that the past is dead andthe future is unborn.

It is a folly to think that we are important because of our past positions and associations. Weall have a relevance and an importance that are independent of our past glories. We still are fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, and friends. These identities are of importance by themselves for the simple reason they are ours and nothing (nobody) other than time can robus of these identities.

Likewise, when we are young, it is inevitable to some extent that we need to plan for the future.We need to save for the house of our dreams, for our children’s education, for our own retirement, and these plans for the future do rob us of our present, stopping us from living in the moment. But senior people have no such compulsions. They need not plan too much for the future. Beyond a point, the vagaries of the stock market, the price of crude oil and of onions,rising unemployment don’t affect them, and that is truly a great place to be in.

Thus, for the elderly, the past is dead, and the future is of little consequence. What is now leftis the present and why not make full use of it. There are a zillion activities they can keepthemselves busy with – travel, reading, writing, carpentry, photography, bird watching, socialwork, to name just a few. Activities like these keep senior people mentally agile and sociallyactive, and help them keep anxiety, resentment and all other negative emotions at bay.Once they shed the baggage of the past and negative emotions, they can live in the momentand live life in total abandon

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