Yes, every sunset pins our hopes for a brighter, better tomorrow.
I so wish this thought permeates the social fabric in a way that those who gave us sunrise don’t move into oblivion. According to an online research, India’s population of the elderly is rising fast. From 9% in 2011 it is expected to reach 18% by 2036. How are we as a society gearing up for this rise?
A question which isn’t yet a priority is sure to bring along problems like disillusionment, neglect and isolation for the elders. I wonder if we would be willing to address these issues because, unlike most problems today, this one will not have any gadget or application driven solutions.
Am I willing to partner them through this phase? My response is yes.
How am I doing it? It is through a self-devised approach constituting acceptance and response.
Every time I visit my parents, an unexplained anxiety takes over. It isn’t that they are ill equipped to live life on their own. It is them seeking reciprocation of the emotional connect they maintained with their children. The dilemma is not caregiving, but accepting it. The transition from the role of providers to beneficiaries is hard hitting. Acceptance of this phase of life becomes easier when the next generation contributes too. During every visit, I make it a point to sit with both parents separately and just hear them out. While my father has never-ending stories of his life in the army, Mom has never-ending stories of endless house chores and innovative tantrums of the maids. Transforming the space from judgement to acceptance brings them immense happiness as their faces light up. After all, it is now my turn to accept them and everything about them.
Seeing parents fumble with technology maybe be a laughter riot but fumbling to remember the correct word or forgetting the day of the week is startling. The realisation is as grim for me as it is for them. What makes the difference, however, is how I choose to respond. I, their child, who they value immensely and whose reaction will matter the most. My smile does wonders to their confidence. They shed their inhibitions and guilt of changing behaviour, misspelt words, and forgotten dates.
Striving to ensure presence is also a way to respond. On my quarterly visits, I insist on giving them at least one meal in the bed, while they enjoy a movie of their choice. It isn’t much, but for them it is an unsaid response that makes them feel valued. If I can’t frequent them, I invite them over. The idea of spending time with their children and grandchildren, away from the monotony of their lives, is nothing less than a trip to the amusement park for them.
What a delight it is to see them wander aimlessly, relaxed in the lawn! Contemplating the grandkids’ future and surely theirs too!