Not so long ago, the tricity of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali was labelled a safe haven for retirees.
Youngsters would lament the lack of nightlife and “happening” joints, while senior citizens enjoyed top quality of life with all amenities, particularly healthcare, within reach, the traffic under control, social outings at clubs, interactions with peers at the coffee house or golf course, a stroll in the neighbourhood park and leisurely shopping at Sector 17.
Three decades on, life in the tricity has transformed with youngsters having their say and senior citizens struggling to keep pace with new-age living. Safety has become a concern for the elderly, traffic is difficult, outings and interactions are restricted due to health and shopping has been cut down to necessities.
Empty nests abound in every sector and you know a family’s fortunes have seen a generation shift when a house is being pulled down to make way for a structure with a gleaming glass and tile façade complete with a basement. Neighbouring houses look withered and seem resigned to their fate.
However, the past need not be forgotten to make way for the future. The tricity has a better future if it stands on the foundation of the experience of its past. We may not have noticed but the world around us is graying too. Access to better healthcare means longer and more productive lives. Today, there are around 600 million people aged above 60 years worldwide. This total is set to double in a decade and is expected to reach two billion by the middle of this century. A majority of these senior citizens live in the developing world, which includes India. It is in this context that we should celebrate International Day of Older Persons this October 1. This year’s theme is: Older people, a new power for development.
Often senior citizens can be forgotten about and sometimes they are treated like lesser members of society. A community would be wise to tap their experience and knowledge.
There is no age to retire from life so we could continue harnessing the potential of seniors. For this we could bring generations together and improve attitudes towards older people. The role seniors play in society, whether it is as a babysitter, tutor, caregiver, leader or consultant, needs to be acknowledged and appreciated. In fact, as the world ages, older people are expected to play an even more significant role through increased participation.
Since we want to be treated well when we’re older, let’s take care of the elderly in the present and carry it on to the future. So, if you’re still wondering how to celebrate on October 1, you could arrange events that focus on bringing the generations together. Let’s use technology to bridge the generation gap. How about grandchildren or children teaching parents to use a hi-tech gizmo? Selfies together, anyone? To return the favour, seniors could share more about gadgets of their times like the good old gramophone or typewriter or simply tell today’s youngsters about interesting items they would have never had the chance to use. Let our tricity lead the way in embracing the change by acknowledging the achievements of senior citizens and bringing the generations together.