What Could Pos­si­bly Hap­pen Once You Re­tire?

Business Bhutan - - Editoria - NARAYANI GANESH The writer writes on en­vi­ron­ment, sci­ence, phi­los­o­phy and her­itage. [Cour­tesy: ToI]

Many of us make a wish list of what we would do once we re­tire from that nine-to-five or ten-to-six job that ap­pro­pri­ates all of our wak­ing hours. We stack up read­ing ma­te­rial and mu­sic, make lists of movies to see, friends to visit, places to ex­pe­ri­ence and dream of re­viv­ing that long for­got­ten hobby and en­joy leisurely walks with­out hav­ing to rush back. But, as the say­ing goes, we pro­pose, and the uni­verse may dis­pose. For who knows what lies in store for us when we are old?

The hu­man body can­not go on for­ever. We are born, we die, and be­tween th­ese two ma­jor events, life hap­pens. Some things may be in our con­trol, but many oth­ers are not. When you hear some­one say, “I would like to grow old grace­fully,” you won­der, is that an op­tion for all of us? What if I am no longer in con­trol of bod­ily func­tions? What if I lose my mind?

Th­ese thoughts trou­bled me while lis­ten­ing to par­tic­i­pants speak, and when I was view­ing films that told sto­ries about the el­derly, or­gan­ised by Hei­del­berg Univer­sity, in New Delhi re­cently. Alzheimer’s and de­men­tia, the two pro­gres­sive con­di­tions that nor­mally manifest in some of the el­derly, can rob you of your me­mory and dis­ori­ent you to the ex­tent that you can no longer find your way back home or per­form even sim­ple tasks like but­ton­ing up your shirt.

Mo­han Agashe, the med­i­cal doc­tor-turned-ac­tor and film­maker who plays the el­derly pro­tag­o­nist in the award-win­ning Marathi film `Astu’, says ad­vances in medicine can help ex­tend the body’s life­span, even if it means ly­ing on a hos­pi­tal bed with tubes and ma­chines serv­ing as life sup­port. But, he asks, all this is on the phys­i­cal plane – what about the mind? And how will your fam­ily and close cir­cle of friends per­ceive you once you have, so to speak, `lost your mind’ – even if through­out your work­ing life you were lauded, re­spected and loved as a great scholar and role model, as the char­ac­ter he played in the film was? Will they see you as a nui­sance?

Of course, one may never get to that stage – of be­com­ing old – and life may end when one is rel­a­tively younger. But for those who do live longer, qual­ity of life may de­pend en­tirely on the kind of hu­man sup­port sys­tem they have, in terms of fam­ily and friends and how they now per­ceive and treat you and the kind of fa­cil­i­ties and ben­e­fits that gov­ern­ment agen­cies and other in­sti­tu­tions may make avail­able to the el­derly.

Which is why nur­tur­ing hu­man re­la­tion­ships and stay­ing con­nected is so im­por­tant, not just for older peo­ple, but for younger mem­bers as well, who tend to dis­tance them­selves from their loved ones, of­ten un­in­ten­tion­ally, in the hurly-burly of a work­ing life and try­ing to keep up with the lat­est tech trends.

Hence the need for good time man­age­ment and to en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion with friends and fam­ily, free from dis­trac­tions of e-gad­gets and re­sist the urge to `keep up with the Jone­ses’. Be­cause, if you plan to sit down and chat with your age­ing par­ents once you are `free’ – af­ter you are through with an­swer­ing your emails and so­cial me­dia up­dates, get­ting a pro­mo­tion, buy­ing that car or house and af­ter get­ting your chil­dren `set­tled’ – you may sim­ply miss the bus.

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