Trunk of the family tree!
As the storm strikes, if you look at branches, it feels, the tree is falling but if you look at the trunk, you realise it's stability! Over the period, the same tree, gave us shelter, fruits and clean air, has now grown older. The trunk has become weaker, the roots have shaken up. A small storm is now, capable to uproot this old tree. This tree depicts our older generation and COVID-19 pandemic depicts one of many storms, in their lifetime.
Retired from the professional responsibilities, the old population enter their second innings, with expectations of recognition of the authority, wisdom, dignity and restraint for their lifetime of experience. These values are often neglected in some societies, where senior citizens suffer from neglect, abuse and violence which take many forms as physical, psychological, emotional and financial, taking a toll on their overall well-being. The people there, forget seniors' contribution to society. The culture of utility-driven relationship, finds no place of respect, for old people, due to their diminishing returns. At these societies and homes there, senior citizens are being felt as a burden for the family purse. The lack of sensitivity towards their emotional, physical and social requirements, lead to their isolation and sufferings. They often, therefore, are forced to live in solitude. The bizarre picture of such societies could be felt and seen in most of the urban landscapes. COVID-19 has only worsened their condition, to the extreme.
The seniors in the urban places, prior to COVID-19, often found solace from solitude through daily walks, laughter clubs, longer discussions over a smaller cup of tea and evening chit chats, with their fellow age mates. The remaining time was invested with newspaper, television news and smartphones apart from home and grandchildren's' responsibilities. If time permitted, few could pursue their hobbies and interests.
Their already compressed solace and freedom, vanished with a Corona stroke, as the 65+ age group of citizens are expected to stay at home, as a precautionary measure. 'Everywhere Corona' presence, on newspaper, television and even in WhatsApp on mobile, has taken the solace and peace out of their life. The COVID-19 fear and its mortality statistics added to their worries. Their neglect is worsened to the extreme as people in the neighbourhood and in the family too, started neglecting their own old people. At many places, cases propped up, where adults denied entry at home, to their corona recovered/ cured old parents. The fear of infection and death added to their miseries.
The World Health Organisation defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. This definition, during COVID-19 times and otherwise too, is narrowed down to physical health alone, neglecting the psychological toll the social distancing norm and solitude, is taking on our old people. Their social and mental health is at risk.
The United Nation's, Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing suggested for the better integration of our old age people, in the family and community as a whole. We need to recognise, respect and at times celebrate the contribution and dedication of our senior citizens, towards building the society, we are living in. The pandemic has given us ample time to reorganise ourselves better, correct the past mistakes if any, leave aside the unnecessary materialist pursuit for the valuable human relations, at home and in the society. There is a magic in human relations and family living together; let our kids experience this magic. A small compassionate, friendly step from us, would be a big step for our senior citizens' social and psychological health and well-being. A small smile and a greeting of 'good morning' or 'good evening' to the old aged passerby, could even be a kind gesture from our kid, enough to make them feel, integrated with the society. Ultimately it's about taking a small time from our busy lives, to make him/ her feel important and being cared. As at the root of all human civilisations, is love, compassion and a deep sense of gratitude.
We need to remember that age is irreversible and inevitable. The respect and love we give to our seniors is what we may receive from our kids when we grow older. Life comes full circle!
If to stand tall and withstand the storm, the old tree requires necessary support, care and small strengthening at the root level.
Santosh Ajmera is an Indian Information Service officer presently working with the I&B Ministry, Govt of India and is also an author of the book 'Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude' published by McGraw-Hill Publication, Views expressed are personal