Introduction In India, life is becoming increasingly hard for Senior citizens above the age of sixty. In most cases, they do not have any other income except their savings to fall back on. They are often left to the lurch and those without adequate resources lead very quiet lives in the interiors of their native villages. If either of the life partners is dead and gone, the surviving person faces the worst problem of loneliness in their lives.
Be that as it may, there are several useful tasks that such Senior Citizens can do today. In particular, anyone in the age group of 60 to 90 today, is particularly so strong in infusing a big deal of confidence and relevance in today's youth and their own children and grandchildren. They contribute so much to happiness and peace in homes. Their role is not only so important but relevant too. In particular, such a Role is inclusive of a) As a friend, philosopher and guide b) A very useful companion for grandchildren c) Caretaker of the entire household d) Advisor on savings and other aspects of living and e) An advisor on good values and beliefs.
As a friend, philosopher and guide This is an important role. It is noted that invariably each Senior citizen would have seen the best and worst of times in their work lives. They would have worked in different places and even their children would not be aware of their difficulties at work and the consequent social problems. The combined learning from such a varied experience will obviously give either parents or both, the ideal platform to adequately function more like a close friend. The philosopher's role is even more vital. The son may even be Vice-President of Marketing in an FMCG company at the age of 35. His wife may an interior designer and their only son would be studying in the sixth standard. The pulls and pressures of a hectic official work would make the son have a torrid time Add to this commuting blues in Bangalore city and the tension is even more evident.
It is in these circumstances that the father can chip in. The aforesaid example is a real one. On matters of man-management the son often consults the father, now 65 years old, with HR experience spread over three companies. The father would ask probing questions about some subordinate or the other and then come out with suggestions on how to make the particular subordinate a high performer. His HR knowledge would be great to watch. This is exactly where the father even assumes the role of a guide too. The mother had worked in a school for some years. She would also come up with some advice on how to make simple inquiries about children of subordinates. Such good advice from Senior Citizens is always very valuable. I had learned some HR lessons from this particular Senior citizen as well. The happiness and peace of mind of the son have to be seen to be believed.
As a useful companion for grandchildren Suffice it to say that a significantly large percentage of grandchildren are being brought up only by grandparents till the age of five or six, directly or indirectly. Though the younger generation is somewhat selfish, and tend to not have grandparents staying with them for a long time, even in cases where the senior citizens stay in their native villages and visit their children only once in a way, it is always seen that the senior citizens are very good companions. In particular, the grandchildren spend hours hearing stories from the grandmother. Even when the grand-daughter attains puberty, it is the Senior citizens who are always so helpful. This sort of engagement is still a very healthy practice in many places. In most cases, where the father had sacrificed so much and had given part of his savings for acquiring some property or the other in big cities, the married sons remain grateful and will always give the senior citizens all support. In such cases, it is always seen that the grandparents have a very good ecosystem that helps them mold themselves in a very good manner in both academics and in sports. The resulting happiness and peace is always good.
It was Ravichandran Ashwin's grandfather who had advised and encouraged him to spend a lot of time in cricket, even when he did his schooling. He is a world-class spinner today. Hence, such inputs of grandparents matter a lot. The Senior Citizens are positively good companions for grandchildren.
As a caretaker of the entire household Since the man and his wife are so busy, they do not have the time to meet anyone who comes home. They do not have anyone to receive the new gas cylinder or even someone to receive the parcels ordered through some online platform. Since most of the Sundays are spent sleeping, communication virtually breaks down most of the time. It is only the Senior citizens who chip in and do all this work. Not only this. It is they who attend the meeting of the Residents' Association of the flat or apartment complex and then sort out what needs to be done. It is they who ensure that the grandchild gets properly into the school bus. It is they who co-ordinate everything with the servant maid and get things done. Such obvious help is so important and vital. It is they who many a time sort out all differences of opinion between their son and their daughters-in-law. And it is they who play a vital role in ensuring that the household becomes a big center of activity for all good relationships between people in the household and with close relatives who keep coming or at least calling over the phone. The younger generation has quite a bit more time on their hands, thanks to the useful contribution of the Senior citizens.
As an Advisor on savings and other aspects In a particular case where the Senior citizens had only one son and a daughter who was already married, with relatively a large number of resources (they had even purchased a flat in the name of the daughter in Tiruchirapalli) there was this large debt that was somewhat weighing down the man who was actually shelling out Rs.65,000/- per month towards his housing loan. Though he was earning a salary double this amount, the income-tax and other problems gave him constant worry. In case the Senior citizen. He told him that the self-earned property in his native place (which was purchased by the Senior citizen long ago) would anyway come only to the son. Why not sell it right now, so that the EMI would come down? The son reluctantly agreed.
The sale proceeds were used to retire part of the debt and the EMI came down to half the figure as the financial institution agreed to rework the repayment schedule. Senior citizens often know what to do, as far as savings are concerned. They are those who have seen it all. They would have saved vital money through recurring deposits. This is exactly how they are able to build a good corpus too. They are the best advisors to their sons or daughters in most cases. When the desired results are achieved, the younger generation is happy.
As an advisor on good values and beliefs This happens more like a rule. Today, everything is being questioned. Aspects of culture that need to be preserved are all becoming history day after day. For instance, the Pongal festival that actually signifies joy all around is not celebrated at all with the usual customary zeal that it once used to be done. The reason is that men and women after marriage, are all caught up in their own busy ways and do not find the time to teach the children everything good about traditional values and beliefs. In all such cases, the Seniors play a vital role. They teach their grandchildren how honesty and integrity are still valued and important. They teach them about tolerance and about everything good about human nature. They teach them the art of respecting poor people. The list goes on. The grandchildren are happy to be in the presence of the Senior Citizens.
Conclusion A few vital dimensions of the role of Senior Citizens in all homes in the present social context have been discussed above. The roles may change a bit over time. However, they are always important. More so, when urban life is set to even become more complex in the years to come. Once the vital role of Senior citizens in contributing to happiness and peace is properly understood, everything will fall in place.
Interesting article by the author. Many people after retirement feel that they have done enough in their life and that is the end of it. Slowly they start becoming dependent on other family members and keep a tag on themselves as a senior citizen who is not able to do any work. This is really a dreadful situation and one should not fall victim to it. It is a trap that every senior citizen should avoid.
Actually speaking a new life begins for a retired person as there is a phenomenal change in his life before and after retirement. He has to find the ways to engage and occupy himself in this new phase of life. What can be better than helping and guiding the family members in one or other matters especially related to the children? From that angle, the role and responsibilities of a senior citizen in a family are unlimited and many. From my personal experience, I strongly believe that in our old age if a person can keep himself occupied in the positive and creative territories then he is the luckiest person on the earth. It is always good to be associated with the family members and help them as it indirectly creates an atmosphere of love and affection from their side for an elderly person. They would also not consider him a liability in their life rather feel that he is so useful and important for them.