March 2014 March 2014 By T ABalasubramanium The Art Of Ageing: Planning For A Comfortable Old Age, Author: S.K. Kulkarni, Published By: Indus Source Books, Paperback, Pages : 296INR 300 Three things confront the aged: financial insecurity, health, and an increasing feeling of being unwanted,” says writer M V Kamath (who is now 92 years of age) in the Foreword to this book that considers, quite pragmatically, the many problems and possibilities related to ageing gracefully in India. In demographic terms, senior citizens (over the age of 60) will form 12.4 per cent of the country’s total population by 2026, a big leap from 7.5 per cent in 2001. So there is a great need for spreading awareness of their particular roles in these times of changing social and economic conditions. With more and more of the elderly living away from their children either in old age homes or in independent apartments, there’s a need for just such a compilation of tips and encouraging advice from those who have managed the fine “art of ageing” in their own lives. Kurkarni presents these collected articles, along with his own narrative, in six chapters. The Four Stages of Life outlines the traditional Hindu divisions of life covering about 25 years each – brahmacharya, grahastha, vanaprastha and sanyasa. The context for these stages of an average person’s “evolution” may have been traditional, but the insights handed down to us are valuable even in modern times. The relevance of the first two stages in today’s world is explored in some detail. In the core of the book is ageing, which describes the current realities of adjusting to changes in family ties and relationships, health and one’s genetic inheritance, and practices that help maintain one’s physical and psychological balance with grace. Two sections here focus on specific ageing problems: Caring for the Elderly and Abuse of the Elderly. They explore the related issues of managing old age health and security issues. The section on finance offers a wealth of advice on managing income and expenditure, strategies to manage unexpected events and the pros and cons of different schemes related to matters like insurance and investments. While this is an excellent guide for the elderly who need sage advice, it is particularly useful for people (like me) who have just become (or who are about to become) ‘senior citizens’. It is also a timely reminder for the young that their parents or grandparents may be going through difficult transitions, and need their presence and support to grow old gracefully.
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