– Answers By Practicing Social Gerontologists.
Does life begin at EIGHTY?
Why not, say two practicing social gerontologists, Soumya Nair and Roshan Jacob from the vast experience, claims your 80s can be the happiest years of your life. Increased numbers of older people and a continued lengthening of the life span signal the need to expand the knowledge about aging not only to the older adults but also to the younger generation who are supposed to support this special group.
No doubt, today’s older adults are healthier and better educated than ever before, but concerned about the quality of life as well as the length of it. A number of role transitions and losses heighten the vulnerability of the older adult in their twilight years–children living far away, health concerns, loss of steady income, death of a spouse, isolation, and institutionalization. A deficit in personal resources and/or coping skills may mean a need for more understanding of old age and thereby planning. Nobody should be caught unaware of the pitfalls in old age.
In this blog, authors are trying to address few special concerns of the elderly and ways to handle such concerns. The essays included in this blog look into the different aspects of longevity and the authors appeal to shun dreading of old age, and instead we should be eagerly looking forward to it.
We continue to have embedded in our culture a fear of growing old, manifest by negative stereotypes and language that belittles the very nature of growing old, its complexities and tremendous variability. As a nation, India is yet to grapple with the longevity issue and we proudly say that we are relatively younger. Unlike the west, any small fraction getting into old and very old is a bigger number. Remember, across the world policymakers are struggling to keep financial and health support systems in place. It is a matter of concern for us too.
It is true that people are very reluctant to talk about getting older. I take classes (Retirement Readiness Program) in various forums. My experience everywhere is same. It quickly became clear I was free to contemplate growing old, but not with them. This may be due to the negative aspects often associated with aging, such as illness, memory loss, an inability to drive, an end to sexual activity, a struggle with loneliness and depression, and dependency or poverty and over above fear of disability and death. Media can play a vital role in diluting such negative myths and bring in a reassuring outlook. Media coverage of the longevity and other aging issues can bring in preparedness among the elders and thereby they can manage the twilight years in a better way. But this is no priority.
Older adults have the right to fair and accurate portrayal of their stories and their issues. The objective of writing these topics is to represent older adults and the aging process in an accurate, contemporary and unbiased manner. As practicing social gerontologists, we have varied experiences and here in this blog, we will highlight each such experience.