`Live for 100 years` is a blessing commonly bestowed on youngsters by elders. The expression is also used by people whenever they receive an unexpected call or meet someone suddenly.
“You will live for hundred years- I was just thinking about you and you called.!” Almost every other day, all my life, I have been getting such a response from some one or the other when I contact them on the phone; or visit them without appointment. It looks like I have telepathic ability which is constantly at work. While I used to be happy receiving such blessings when I was young, these days I resent it. I tell my well wishers not to curse me with long life but to wish me a healthy life as long as I live. I have a reason for a change in my attitude.
It is a known fact that because of advanced medical facilities enabling early diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the average life expectancy of people has gone up. From the obituary pages of newspapers you will notice that the average age of people dying of natural causes is over 80. And there are many who are over 90 years.
Many senior citizens today have begun to have a healthy second innings post retirement from a career job and are following their passions and live longer. However, it is impossible for them to stop the natural ageing process leading to old age related health issues. In spite of their efforts to keep themselves fit and busy with activities we find many old people are afflicted with dreaded ailments like Dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinsons, etc. Such diseases not only reduces them to a pitiable state but also imposes tremendous strain on the care givers in the family. I am a witness to many such instances of elders over 80 years among my close friends and relatives giving tough times to their family members. Such care givers, in spite of the love they have for the elders in the family, cannot but pray for the early exit of their dear ones. It is heart wrenching indeed.
The well to do in our society can afford to appoint full time professional caregivers or admit their elders into old age homes or hospices providing good care facilities at a cost. However, it’s the middle class people staying in cramped apartments without the financial resources who suffer the most. Life becomes hell for such families.
I have always felt that those old people who die of sudden cardiac arrest or those who go to sleep but don`t wake up in the morning are truly blessed people. One day they are alive and active and the next day they are gone without imposing any burden on their families.
During my active working days I used to Pray; `God! Give me lots of problems and the courage to face them… make my life interesting`. These days I pray; ` God! Please take me with my shoes on…. when I am still active and useful to society`. I don`t want to be a burden on my family with protracted illness of any kind.
Will God listen to my prayers? Only He knows.
This article appeared in the Adyar Times Issue dated 10-16thSeptember,2017 under my column `Rajans Random reflections`.
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