SENIOR CITIZENS SAVING OUR WEALTHAgeing is a natural phenomenon that makes people

SENIOR CITIZENS: SAVING OUR WEALTHAgeing is a natural phenomenon that makes people move from independent adulthood to a stage of dependency. It is the last phase in the life’s journey and closing period in the life span which is marked with decreased capacity for adaptation. Thus, ageing refers to the process of growing old or changes that occur with the passage of time. It involves multidimensional changes including those in the biological, psychological and social spheres of the person’s experience. India has currently become grey country with highest population of the aged in the world after China. These age groups are also known as “geriatric age group”. In the last 50 years global life expectancy has increased by 20 years reaching to its present level of 60 years. The population of aged in India as per 2001 census was 76 million, at present India has 81 million people above 60 years of age and this number is going to rise to 177 million by 2025 (Pankjam, 2005). Similar to this census 2011 depicts that India comprises of about 100 million elderly people (above 60 years of age) which accounts up to 7.5 per cent of the country’s population. In 2026 it is projected to grow to174 millions. It is going to be big problem as the dependency ratio will also increase. This shows that the magnitude of the problems of the aged will be increasing in India in the near future. It is not just for demographic reasons but also for a sharp socio- cultural metamorphosis that empirical focus has zeroed down on the aging population. Indian society is passing through a transitional period where Modern life style and elevated costs of living, increased cost of child upbringing, educating children and pressures for gratification of their own desires affect one’s transfer of traditional norms to care for the elderly both ways emotionally and financially. The problems of senior citizens in urban areas tend to be multiple rather than single i.e. financial and health problems, ill-treatment by children, lack of care and support during illness, feeling of loneliness, and unhappiness due to death of spouse etc. As one of the significant aspects of the lives of older people is their feeling of life-satisfaction. The feeling of satisfaction with their lives offers a sense of contentment and fulfillment of a large portion of their felt needs. There is a strong positive correlation between life satisfaction and level of activity among the elderly. Researches reveals that the significant contributors to life-satisfaction are personal self, familial relationships, marital relationships, economical status, social life relationships, routine life work, self achievements, positive health, functional ability, self acceptance of ageing changes, perception of social supports, inter-generational interaction, religiosity, self-rating of ability in activities of daily living, economic security, self rated behavioral flexibility, externality, belief in karma (fate) and rebirth philosophy. Dagar (2003) reported that stress comes in all shapes, and has become so pervasive, that it seems to percolate everything and everybody including senior citizens. Stress can originate in physiological, psychological and social conditions and threaten the integrity of the body and personality. Most of the symptoms that senior citizen generally face are fear of death, feeling of insecurity and general excitement, fatigue, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression of spirits, emotional instability, inferiority feelings, pains and headaches, indecision, intolerance, suicidal pre-occupation, panic states, giddiness and genitourinary symptoms and other physiological disturbances. Senior citizens try to cope up and manage their stress via different mechanisms. The way of managing stress is called coping. The general and most frequently used method of coping is by confiding in people like close relatives and friends. The coping could be either referred to the appraisal process (emotion-focused) or be done by the aim of changing external demands by means of behavior (problem-focused) (Matthews, et al., 2003). Early planning, flexibility in interests and continuing social roles, and physical activeness, developing a reliable source of income after retirement (Grewal, 1999), anticipating the kind of roles and activities (Gandotra, 1996) can help aged to adopt as coping strategies and the transition from active years to their leisure time years. In changing scenario besides special programmes and plans, elderly also need to bring themselves to a level where they can accept and adapt to changing world and take old age as a normal part of life span. Consequently, it is essential to make the senior citizens independent and self-sufficient so that they can build up their inherent potentialities to cope up with their problems. The remarkable quality among senior citizens is their coping ability and this ability needs to be enhanced which may enable senior citizens to overcome their problems. This can be done by providing economic, social, psychological intervention at individual and family level. For developing the necessary guidelines for such interventions, studies regarding the present problems and coping strategies is vital. As such interventions will develop adequate psychological strength in the senior citizens to take life in old age smoothly and with good grace. The elderly citizens are in need of urgent attention. They do not need our pity, but the understanding, love and care of their fellow human beings. It is the duty of younger generation to see that they do not spend the twilight years of their life in isolation, pain and misery. Several studies have been conducted in India specifically focusing on adjustment trends of elderly, life satisfaction, stress, and coping of aged, but only few studies has been done to improve family cohesion, communication and adoptability to minimize challenge of ageing in family. A family support intervention package can be very useful extensive interventions for family by utilize professionals help (educators, counselors, doctors, nurses, social workers, and youth and community workers) to enhance life satisfaction among elderly. Senior Citizens are a treasure of our society. They have worked hard all their lives for the development of the nation as well as the community. They possess a vast experience in different walks of life. The youth of today can gain a lot from the experiences of the senior citizens in taking the nation to greater heights. At this stage of their life, they need to be taken care of and made to feel special. But in present context old age is the greatest challenge that an individual is facing. With fast changing socio-economic and demographic scenario, nuclear family system has replaced traditional joint family system and lifestyle has become very fast. As a result there is no space for patience and contentment in the life of younger generations. Thus we need to create awareness among youngsters to understand the needs of elderly as well as their importance for a happy and healthy family life.

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