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Make every day special for the elderly

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Old age is not about material possessions, but about being wrapped in the love of family and friends

"So, what should we get him," asked my wife. About a month ago, she and I were in a quandary over what birthday gift to buy for my father who is well into his late seventies. It had to be meaningful to him, memorable, heartfelt and most important, not too odd.

"A branded shirt and matching tie, which may be appreciated but almost certainly will end up in a drawer? Or, a gadget, such as a tablet or an e-book reader? "How about a pair of shoes," I suggested after much thought.

"I’m sure he has seen more than enough of such things during his life," my wife said. "What shall we do then," I asked.

"How about taking him on a surprise picnic lunch; let’s spend some time together. I think that’s what he would really enjoy," she suggested.

I was taken aback. "Are you sure? You really think we should do that," I asked, doubting if dad would like the idea. But on second thought, I agreed with her as we had never planned a surprise picnic before.

The day of his birthday, when we told him about the surprise we had planned, he appeared very much heartened and thrilled. He almost shouted in exhilaration, "That is awesome! Bring out the picnic basket!"

That day, we had a fun outing and a pleasant picnic lunch in the hills where we enjoyed each other’s company, ate home-cooked food, chatted and laughed, while the children scurried about the surroundings, adding to the merriment.

My father had a big smile on his face the whole day. He was so delighted that he gave me a hug and said, "Thank you, dear! It’s the best birthday gift I’ve ever had!"

"It’s all thanks to her," I said, turning to my wife, who was all smiles. My wife, of course, deserved all the credit. I was glad and surprised, that at her young age, she was able to think outside the realm of our day-to-day practices and come up with such a great birthday celebration idea.

I reckon that anyone who has elderly parents or who is in the role of a caregiver, this is an important point to be aware of that the kind of stuff, we, as young people, enjoy isn’t necessarily what our elders enjoy too. Sometimes, we need to try to see things from their point of view and let them know that we understand their expectations, their needs and their world too.

As carers of elderly parents, it’s important that we bear in mind that old age is not about material possessions, such as expensive watches, branded clothes, gadgets, cars or foreign trips; it’s about being wrapped by the love and warmth of one’s family and friends — something that we tend to take for granted in our hurried, frenzied lives.

In this context, we must bear in mind that we can make every day a special occasion for our elderly loved ones by making a heartfelt commitment towards them, by serving them with kindness and respect and by understanding their perspective of the world.

rajeshkrishan77@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 2:37:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/make-every-day-special-for-the-elderly/article29993116.ece

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