Growing old elegantly
TO DISCUSS how powerful a tool the mind can be in the process of aging, HelpAge India and Rahat - a Charitable and Medical Research Trust - organised a seminar, `A Healthy Mind For Healthy Ageing', at India International Centre in New Delhi as part of its series of six seminars on `Active Aging for Healthy Living'. Eminent speakers included Professor Nimesh G. Desai, psychiatrist, and clinical psychologist Dr. Sujata Sharma. Every third person among the elderly in India is suffering from some kind of illness, either physical or psychological, it was pointed out.
"Ageing as a process" was the focus of Dr. Desai's talk. "We realise we are ageing in our middle age, when a child who lives in our locality starts addressing one as Uncle. There is more to ageing than the schism in it. The separation of the old in society occurs because of some factors, namely, young versus old, masculine versus feminine, attachment versus separation and destruction versus creation."
He also spoke about important social issues related to the elderly - the dementias and other cognitive changes that occur, the development of negative views on self, world and future in people in their later stages of life.
Dr. Sujata Sharma, speaking about "empowering the mind", laid emphasis on helping people maintain their goals. She cited great artists like Michaelangelo and Picasso who were busy with their masterpieces in the very late years of their lives. She added: "There are psychological concerns of old age. Irritation, apathy, boredom and solitude are very noticeable in old people. In many cases these are consequences of the death of the spouse and moving away of children. These people often take to alcohol and tobacco, which many believe can help them to face reality and overcome stress, but it in fact adds to their problems."
She mentioned techniques of relaxation, meditation, visualisation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. The idea behind the seminar was to have an active mind in old age and embrace the concept of growing old gracefully. The speakers pointed out that to have zest for life, people in the older age group need high self-esteem and should expose themselves to new challenges, intellectual curiosity, active social involvement, physical exercise and adequate nutrition.
SYED ASIM ALI
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