The more you live, the more today you see, the more yesterday’s you left and the more tomorrow you say! Only those who have lived long can best tell the regrets of yesterday, the lessons in today and the real reasons to ponder before you say and think of tomorrow!
By Nazarul Islam
Barely a day goes by nowadays when there isn’t a reference to our (home) country’s young demographics in one context or the other. But while the country plays host to one of the youngest populations in the world, approximately 6.6 per cent of the strong citizenry in the countries of subcontinent, has comprised of people who are over the age of 65. That is a pretty significant number.
While there is a focus, and rightly so, on a national youth policy that looks at all-round development of youngsters, we have not as yet—despite our cultural traditions which place a premium on looking after the aged—been successful in putting a comprehensive action plan in place to administer to the needs of the elderly.
The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and its particularly lethal impact on the elderly has brought out in sharp relief the vulnerabilities of India’s older population. There is no better time, then, to turn the spotlight on what needs to be done to ensure that the future for all citizens and not just those who happen to be 20 today (but will turn 65 one day, too) is worth looking forward to. Old age brings with it certain vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
Medical, health, and wellness infrastructure ought to be a key priority for planners given the size of our aging population. The country of our origin is only at the beginning of the curve which has topped out in the developed world as increasing prosperity ensures people live much longer. As the population’s median age goes up, so will the need to allocate resources in proportion.
This would include not only increasing access to medical services for the elderly like specialized geriatric care units in hospitals and rehabilitative care in hospices but also emotional-psychological support where required. Loneliness, quite apart from the ailments which come with old age, can be a killer too. Mobility for the aged so they have some independent ability to get around is another imperative.
Our public transport system infrastructure back home is woefully short of even the basics—ramps, shallow steps, easy-to-grab handrails, emergency medical kits, priority queues et.al. On the flip side, as our elderly population stays healthier longer thanks to the advances in medical science and better standards of living, they need to feel a productive part of society.
To me—Old people deserve a medal of existence which crowns their long-term victory against the cruelty of time and the dangers of this chaotic universe!
Many have skills and expertise that can be used whether in the voluntary sector or even for mentoring in the professional world. The country’s armed forces, for example, have a post-retirement counseling system which has helped many older people occupy themselves gainfully even as they add value to organizations they are associated with.
Ageing is the growing chasm between the familiarity of memories and their fading distance in time. Old age is when the past is so far back it appears more surreal than a life lived. Death is when the individual relinquishes their tenuous grip on their life history.
It is time you started walking the talk when one asserts that old is gold. The more you live, the more today you see, the more yesterday’s you left and the more tomorrow you say! Only those who have lived long can best tell the regrets of yesterday, the lessons in today and the real reasons to ponder before you say and think of tomorrow!
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