Elders must remember that life for them is not as happy and healthy as it used to be both in terms physical as well as cognitive abilities. This article is a reminder of important things that every elder should avoid.
Much has been described in academic literature and health guide books as to what the elders should do on a daily basis to keep themselves physically and mentally agile. These are positive aspects and the elders should do or practice. But at the same time, there are certain aspects that elders must “avoid” to have a happy and healthy life.
Elders must remember that life for them is not as happy and healthy as it used to be both in terms physical as well as cognitive abilities. They need to remain within limits of their age and restrictions thereof. Keeping in view the above limitations, there are certain things they must avoid as doing these invites undesired outcomes, willingly or unwillingly. The best way is NOT TO DO THEM.
This article is a reminder of some of the important things that every elder should avoid so as to not invite problems.
Five things not to Do:
- Doing heroic works
- Spending time idly
- Gifting property to children while alive
- Interfering in the matters of your children
- Regretting for the past
Doing heroic works
Elders must understand that they are not physically as fit as they used to be in younger days. We may feel we are physically / mentally absolutely fine but in reality, the situation is quite different. Therefore, elders must avoid doing heroics like getting up on a table / stool to clean the house or remove a bag kept up or trying to walk up a tough and steep road or crossing the road while red lights are still on. These are only some illustrative examples. What it implies is that we must not venture to do things that do not suit our age. Elders should be calculative and decide in mind what they should and what they should not keeping in mind their age. Any heroics can lead to serious problems like falls, fracture, spinal disorder, road accidents, among other dangerous consequences. This also includes tough physical exercises like gym for a long time or jogging, etc.
Spending time idly
This is another problem area. Elders often feel they have done enough and therefore, it is time to relax and spend time idly. Relaxation: “yes”, but spending time idly: “a definite no”. The reason is simple; an idle passing of time for some days or few weeks is fine. But after that life becomes too monotonous and we lose the energy to do anything. We see many elders do not know how to spend time; they become nervous and anxious as they get up every day. Spending time idly without any “end in mind” or “purpose” is something like a “ship without a captain”. We need to develop a purpose of life whatever may be the age. Spending time idly is one sure way to slowly kill our life and living.
Gifting property to children while alive
This is a serious mistake. Right approach is to bequeath the property on death to successors; but definitely not giving it away through “gift” while still being alive. There have been several cases in India of elder abuse and being driven away from their own homes after such gifting. Though there is a legal provision now to reclaim such gifted property, but it is a long-drawn process. The best way is to enjoy the property while you live, make a will to gift it your spouse while you are no more there and then give it away to your children / others as you like. Do not make mistake of giving away the property to children while you are alive.
Interfering in the matters of your children
While we become old, our children have grown up much beyond adulthood, settled in life and are capable of taking their own decisions. Value systems have also undergone dramatic transformation over a period of time. The principle, therefore, should be that let the children take their own decisions for their own matters & life. We should give advice, only & only, if asked for. Everyone should take care own their destiny and we as elders should remain “distant mentors” as any unsolicited advice often leads to misunderstanding and resultant problems.
Regretting for the past
This is the most unwanted thing. Past is dead and gone and we can never alter or rectify it. There is, therefore, no point in discussing or expressing regret over the past. Many of our problems / pain points arise as we start looking at our past: professional as well as personal life and regret some of the decisions we had taken. It is of no sense as we cannot rectify the same. It is always better to forget the past and move forward. Bitterness of past can only lead to self-destruction. It is thus always wise to be away from it.
All of us must remember that life is a journey; it is very short & crisp. We are only travellers in this journey; we embark and then disembark whenever destiny desires. With a view to make the journey meaningful & peaceful, we must “do” certain thing and must “not do” some others. The 5 (five) non doable things will possibly make our journey and its experience sweeter.
Dr A K Sen Gupta is the Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). This article has been published in Free Press Journal (FPJ) on 12th November 2022, where he is a regular contributor. Dr Sen Gupta was the Director of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai, and Director & Mentor at SIES College of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai. He was a World Bank Consultant and instrumental in setting up the National Banking College in Ghana, Africa, and a Professor at the National Institute of Bank Management, Pune.