The Twilight Zone and Mental Health-Part 2

by Sudha Dixit

Loneliness causes us to lose the will to live. Hence, simple entertainment is not enough. We must instill a desire to live in desperate people. I advocate ‘euthanasia’ in extreme cases; which is an entirely different issue. Remember Aruna Shanbhag? She remained on the ventilator, like a vegetable for forty-two years. That is inhuman. In such cases, the candidate should be allowed to die of his/ her own will with help of a doctor. In any such situation, ‘euthanasia’ is an act of mercy, that provides relief to the sufferer.

Leaving aside the rare and extreme cases, we must concentrate on finding solutions to the rising problem of loneliness among elderly people. It leads to severe mental issues like insanity, schizophrenia, uncontrolled anger, or deep depression. Western countries and self-sufficient countries like Japan are examples that technology has failed us. It can never replace human empathy and emotions. So, while our youngsters have to take responsibility of the well-being of elders, be it their family members, neighbours, or other senior citizens of society; the elders, themselves, have to take care of their life. They have to plan their future. We have always been taught to save for rainy day. This saving is nothing but a foresight; a preparation for not-so-predictable time ahead.

We do anticipate rainy days. So, an umbrella is required. Summer also happens with intense heat. Hence, let’s plant trees and secure a cap in case you venture out in the sun. winter protection is also essential. These are the physical and material things we all know about. Similarly, there are abstract things -intellectual, emotional and, maybe, spiritual that, too, should be looked after.

Time keeps moving, so does our age. We grow old. Old age is our rainy day. We are alone in our twilight zone. Let’s keep some baggage with us till we no longer need any baggage. Now, what kind of luggage do we need? We need things that keep us occupied. The mind requires to be engaged in activities. It should never be kept empty or it would become ‘Devil’s workshop’. The heart doesn’t get wrinkles. It should never be deprived of love and affection. So, what do we do to remain sane and happy in our ‘over the hill’ period? The answer is – ‘Keep ourselves engaged’. The question is, again, how do we do that? The answer is – to cultivate hobbies. Hobbies entertain us. They keep minds occupied and hearts engaged in happiness.

Whatever we do for pure pleasure is a hobby. Some love gardening. They talk to plants. They reap the fruits- literally. Some like to travel. They explore the world. Others read. They, also, explore the universe mentally. Some paint. Some create artifacts. There are umpteen options. Just look for them and you would find that sky is the limit. Gardening-lovers may become too fragile to pursue it. Travelers, again, may have health issues. Readers might not be able to read due to eye-problem. Hindrances are many. But life is a journey. There is no destination. We have to keep moving and for that we need motivation. This motivation is our virtual destination. We have to handle our isolation ourselves. Remember, when we used to get hurt in our childhood; our mother would cuddle us, soothe us try to comfort us but the pain we only had to bear. Nobody can, physically, share our pain. Same situation in our old age. We must have the means to handle the vacuum, time has created in life. Hobbies are those means. Forget reading, writing, gardening, or traveling. There are no-stress activities. Just watch movies, play cards, talk to plants, and join the laughter club.

The most important and easiest thing, in life, is to remain connected with friends. Friends are our lifeline ever and especially in old age. Our own age group keeps us in our own time zone. Our time zone is our comfort zone. We should try to remain in our comfort zone. Peace and serenity are the best medicine for mental health. Laughing(funnily), walking (be it staggeringly), dancing (even with two left legs), singing (in tune voice), with a bunch of friends and calling them idiots, is the way to live happily. There is nothing more important in life than happiness.

We don’t need robots or machines to make us happy. We need a human touch. We need emotional healing. We need friends and support of society. On one hand we need to share our loneliness with someone; on the other hand, we need the will and tenacity to stand on our own feet and walk maybe with a walker.

Japan and other rich and developed countries would tackle their elders’ problems in their own way; our Bharat is a young nation. Our culture is, still, intact to a great extent. We can handle our senior citizens. All we need is awareness and a feeling of love towards them. Our elders are a treasure-trove of experience. They have unconventional knowledge. If nothing else. At least, they have stories to tell. Let us pamper them. Let us not forget that they do not have much time to live. Let us make the last moments of their life comfortable and peaceful. Believe me, the effort would make us blissful.

About the Author:

Sudha Dixit, was born and brought up in UP.  Graduated from AMU, did master’s (English literature) from Lucknow university, and studied Law at BHU.  Presently settled in Bangalore. Career-wise had 15 years stint in real estate. Now, she is doing what she always wanted to do – painting landscapes and portraits & writing poetry/articles on the net and in various magazines, including print media

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