Lectures/Training at Other Organizations

Enjoying the old age to the fullest

Dignity Foundation found especially for senior citizens has its head office in Bombay and its Bangalore branch in Jayanagar. The Coffee Chavadi branch in Vidyaranyapura was opened recently.

Dr. Ali started the talk by pointing out to the board on which was written 'Enjoying the old age to the fullest' and said that to enjoy this stage one should not allow the thought of old age to get into their minds.

Place: Dignity Foundation, Vidyaranyapura
Date: 18 Jan 2011
People gathered: 20 senior citizens

oldageDr. Ali also discussed the concept of longevity. The life span of human has been steadily increasing from 30years and has now increased up 85 years. During the 1930s the average period a person could was 30 years and it increased to 40 years during independence and has not come up to 85 years. They may get retired by the age of sixty but are still capable of doing work efficiently. So many people who have taken retirement are looking for another career after the age of 60 years.  Dr. Ali also mentioned this was the reason he had changed the concept of retirement planning to second career planning. People had started to keep themselves engaged by looking for a career option.

This explains that old age is only a mental state. Dr. Ali gave an example of his grandfather who lived upto the age of 97 years and was fit till about 95 years. He was capable of taking a walk for a few miles and carry out the daily activities without any issues. This was because he did not allow the concept of old age to enter his mind. He also narrated an incident which took place at their house. Dr. Ali's grandparents had adopted a maid servant who lived there and would help them in the household activities. Later they got her married, when her children had left home looking for careers and her husband had passed away, she sought shelter in their house. Everyday morning his grandfather would get up early in the morning to bring milk. After the maid had returned home his grandmother told him she would go to buy milk and he need not take the trouble of waking up early. Hearing this his grandfather became very furious and scolded his wife. Later when Dr. Ali asked his grandfather why he had become so emotional about such a small matter he replied “It is only after I bring the milk in the morning and tea is made out of it, the entire house hold wakes up, which means that I am responsible for the start of everyday activities, and that the reason I get respect. Now  if the maid has to take up that work then nobody will even enquire about me in the house.”

oldageDr. Ali then told about the efforts made by his grandfather. Dr. Ali's grandfather held a good position in department of Customs and Excise. He then retired, and a few years back the pension had to be collected by the pensioner at the respective office. Hence his grandfather had to go to the office every month and collect his pension. As his grandfather retired from a good position, he was treated with respect by the staff at the office, but the ex-employees who belonged to the lower  positions were treated badly, and this would always annoy his grandfather. When asked about their behaviour the employees would answer back rudely asking him if he was their advocate to defend them. This provoked him and at the age of 70 he decided to do LL.B and help his colleagues. After completing his course he would go to the office to collect his pension  and on the first four days of the month he would be seated in the office premises, and the ex-employees who were mistreated by the present employees would come to him for justice. He lived upto the age of 97 years to help the ex-employees get their rightful pension.

In most of the offices and especially in government offices the retirement age is a fixed and the employees are aware of it. They also take all precautions and are prepared for this particular period, they see to it that they are financially secure. But the most important element is emotional preparation for this stage of life.

oldageDr. Ali went on to mention about a friend who was a police office of high level lost his hearing ability due to high fever. He could not consult a doctor since he was put on duty in a remote village where there was no access to a hospital. This resulted in loss of his job as he was not fit to be in duty anymore. He then after a long struggle with the officials was put into the computer section of the police department and the Maharashtra police was the first department which had it records completely computerised. The officer had remarkably learnt the art of lip reading. After a few years he underwent a cochlear implant and got back 80% of his hearing.   

Another incident which Dr. Ali narrated was about a Parsi gentleman. 20 years ago, a period when Bangalore was not all that developed, Dr. Ali was traveling from Yelahanka to his office everyday on a road which had less amount of traffic. On day he saw an elderly man waiting for someone by the side of the road and realised that he was a Parsi. The next day too he saw this person, and on the third day he stopped and asked why he was standing and if he wanted a drop. The man agreed for the lift and joined Dr. Ali. Their conversation started and Dr. Ali asked him as to why he was standing there and what he was working as.  He said that he was working as mess officer in Indian Air Force Command Office canteen and was retired in the year 1939 and he was 93 years now. The elderly man was very active and was not following any food restrictions. Dr. Ali asked him as to what made him not to follow the diets that were followed by people of his age. He replied “ Upto the age of 50-60 years my children used to warn me about my eating habits and the health issues following the doctors advices, at the age of 70 years they literally started to threaten me about these, by the time I was 80 years all my doctors died and now there is no doctor to restrict my diet.” this man lived near the Parsi tower of silence, when Dr. Ali questioned him about the why he choose to stay there and if he was not uncomfortable with the nature of the place. He said that anyway he should be brought here after his death, so he did not want anyone to take any trouble of doing it, hence he had decided to stay close to the place. And it also happened the same way. One day Dr. Ali did not find him on the usual place on the road side, he thought that he must have got up late or he was unwell. On the second day when he did not find him again, he went and enquired to the watch man , the watch man said that the elderly man had passed away the night before in his sleep.

oldageDr. Ali also mentioned how, as age progresses one tends to talk about the past and numbers and statistics also become significant. He recalled an incident that took place during his college days. He had just completed his engineering, he had a friend who had a printing press. As the friend was unwell and was advised one month bed rest he was worried about the printing press, Dr. Ali volunteered to take charge of it for a month. One day when he was at the printing press, a man walked in asking for visiting cards. Dr. Ali requested him to look at the visiting cards album which held a number of visiting card designs and give him a confirmation on the particular design that he liked. The man refused and said that he just required a simple card with had the name and his residential address. Dr. Ali agreed and gave the man a piece of paper and pen to write down the same. He returned the paper with the required information to be printed. When Dr. Ali read the name he was surprised, the name written was I.H.Latif, realising that he was the Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Airforce Dr. Ali asked as to why he had not mentioned the same below his name. Latif replied saying that it was the past, he is no more in charge of the position, during the conversation he had mentioned that he was also the Ambassador of India for Germany and served as the Governor of Maharastra also. But he was not interested to mention any of these in his visiting card, this is because he had let go off the designation and moved forward after he had retired from the respective jobs. After this experience Dr. Ali felt a lot of respect for Mr. I.H.Latif as he was such a achiever and yet a humble person.

Another important concept that was mentioned by Dr. Ali was of loneliness. Many elderly people tend to feel very lonely, this is because they would he retired and also found that their children have moved away now. This loneliness is the cause of dependency on the family. One should learn to reciprocate the love and attention given to them from the family and return the same to them. If they do not do so and only long for the support and attention they may not receive it and as a result may
end up being disappointed. This can best be avoided by engaging oneself in various useful activities. The information about Helping Hands volunteers and their work was then given by Dr.Ali.

As an example of planning, Dr. Ali gave an incident of a person who volunteered for Banjara Academy. One day Dr. Ali received a letter on the letterhead of the Executive Director LIC of India. It said that his native was Bangalore but was working in Mumbai at present, he would be retiring in a few months and he was interested to join Dr. Ali for providing voluntary services. Though Dr. Ali did not completely believe in his words he replied saying that he is always welcome to the NGO and his services would be very valuable. To his surprise that person was present in the office on the exact time and date that he had mentioned in the letter. Dr. Ali explained to him the process of the voluntary work done by the NGO, he also explained to him about the working conditions in the hospitals and the person was willing to do the same. So Dr. Ali suggested him to go to Manipal Hospital which had a better environment. But he was willing to go to Victoria Hospital, he was also wanted to travel by bus. Dr. Ali expected this person would quit with in a day or two. But he continued his voluntary services upto a week before his death. When he was doing the services he would send a postcard to Dr. Ali writing to him his experiences in various hospital and the values he learnt from them. Dr. Ali was surprised by this person who was holding such a high position in such a good company could one day come and become volunteer in a hospital, he also appreciated his planning it from Mumbai.

oldageDr. Ali concluded the talk by mentioning that one can work very well even in old age and carry out his daily activities without any difficulty  even if he has developed  ailments such as hearing disorders or eyesight problems etc. the only trouble that one may not be able to function would be because of Alzheimer.

Question:How to prevent Dementia?
Answer: The human mind is one that needs intellectual stimulation. Hence one should do different works and not follow a routine. The more one can keep the brain active the more he is likely not to get this disease. For example one can watch news on T.V. and also read the newspaper. This is routine work which everyone does. Now after doing both one can compare both and see which gave more precise news about a particular incident. One can also keep the mind active by doing many creative activities.


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