When I was in my thirties, my parents were in seventies. They used to spend all their time talking to each other in a separate room. I never understood what they were talking. Now I am 73 years old and I know what they were talking. At old age, you have ample time and nobody to talk to. So the only available person is your wife and you bore her with your old achievements or old arguments.

  • The same happened to our parents and would happen to our children.

It is called generation gap which cannot be bridged. A few examples of what I had done in my young age and what I want in my old age.

  • My father used to send money in my college days for monthly expenditure and also sends an express return telegram to inform my welfare. In those days I never wrote a letter to my parents.
    • But now I expect that my son talk to me every day at least for 5 minutes by phone
  • I told my father once, that I am old enough to take my own decisions and no need for his advice.
    • Now I give advice to my son on various aspects, which he refuses not so bluntly.
  • I could not stay with my parents due to employment and I had to stay about 1500 km away from my parents. They could not spend time with grandchildren.
    • The same happened to me as my son is about 2000 km away and we could not spend time with grandchildren.
  • When my father was alive, I did not understand his value. He was the only true supporter and well-wisher and ready to support me at any adverse moment without reservation. Only I realized this after his death, as I could not stay in the village even 6 months after his death.
    • Same things would happen to our children. They only realize when the old man is not there. That is nature.

Some other experiences

  • One of my known people threw his mother out of his house when young and she had to spend her time in some relative’s house. Now, as he became old, he blames his children for not taking care of him.
  • Another person kept his old father in an old age home. Now he laments that his children are not taking care of him suitably.
  • One of my friends has shifted to his son’s house thinking he would be happy with his son and grandchildren. Within 6 months, his son and daughter-in-law sold his books, furniture and all his belongings to “Raddiwala” telling that they are an-chronic in the new house. Now he feels sorry that he left his house and joined his son only to lose his identity altogether.
  • Another old couple who stay with their son rant that they are treated as guests and not part of the family for any family decisions or activities.
  • One of my Sikh friends told me that we should not give all our money to children and depend on them. Anyhow, the money will go to them. Why should you give it before and depend on them? He said that “Wealthy Papa is Happy Papa”. I agree with him.

We never understood how our old parents thought and wanted when we were young. The same happens to our children and grand children. This is a cycle of nature and we have to bear with it and create our own circle of friends and activities to be completely involved and spend time usefully. There is no use blaming either children or parents.

When I was about 20 years of age, I attended a meeting of some spiritual activity. I do not remember the name or place. The main speaker of the meeting gave us an advice which had a great impression on my young mind. He said that nobody can repay the debt to parents, as they bring us to this world and take care of us in our young age. But, we can only thank them and also do “NAMASKARA” every day morning.

So I went to my parents and told them what the saint told me and did ‘NAMASKARA” and also told them that whatever I do in my life and whatever I earn will go to my wife and children but I can only thank my parents for this. My parents laughed at me and accepted my ‘NAMASKARA”. Taking cue, my younger brothers also started doing ‘NAMASKARA” whenever we go out to some other place or leave our village to new places.

Will ‘NAMASKARA” is enough for the old people? I think, we should have taken a bit more care for our parents, as we expect a little more love, affection and care from our children. This is applicable for all generations.

There is no solution to this problem of senior citizens. It is going to be more difficult for the next generation as families are going to be more nucleuses and no place for old people except in old age homes. The old age homes are two types, one for middle and upper income groups and the other for lower and lower middle income groups.

The middle and upper income groups have no problem with the money. They have saved enough money for their retirement or have pension and medical care support. They only have loneliness and fear of disability in old age and nobody to care them at their most periods of requirements. This can be over come to some extent by buying or renting a one bedroom or two bed room flats in the upcoming markets of senior citizens flats / resorts etc. While choosing such a place, care should be taken not to change location dramatically as any change in climate and surroundings would affect them seriously. As far as possible try to locate in your locality or city where you lived during the last 10 years and nearer to the children, if possible. It is important to be active physically and mentally as far as possible. I recommend continuing what you are doing during the last 10 years as far as physically possible.

Regarding the lower and lower middle income groups, who cannot afford a separate flat/house in such upcoming senior citizens’ flats, should try to live in old age homes taking for rent during their life time. The Government should support NGOs or individuals to start such old age homes and provide financial support to them. Government should specify that at least about 20% of the flats/ beds should be free so that economically weak persons should also be able to utilize such homes.  The children of such people should be legally forced to provide financial support to the parents so that they can live peacefully in such old age holes.

There is a stigma in Indian contest to stay in old age homes / resorts and generally the children are blamed for this. There should be no such stigma attached and the children should welcome such moves and help the old age parents to stay healthy and live happily during the last period of their life and also share holidays and festivals with parents and grand children.

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