‘Elders need to focus on self-actualisation’

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Saturday, 26 October 2019

Shobhana Abhyankar said, “There might be various angles and reasons behind this act. It would be improper to comment on it or to hold anyone responsible for that. But I truly feel that the senior citizens must see old age as an opportunity to take forward their hobbies or to do something close to their heart,”.

PUNE: Recently, the shocking news of an old couple attempting suicide grabbed eyeballs. The couple said they were taking the extreme step not because of any distress or financial worry, but just because they feel they have fulfilled all their duties in life. 

This incident has thrown open a debate whether the senior citizens in our society are so  vulnerable that they take such extreme steps. Nevertheless, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Psychologists and sociologists give tips to live life in a positive way.

According to psychologists, senior citizens must learn to engage themselves in more meaningful ways rather than just ending their lives. Former vice-principal and HoD, Psychology Department, Fergusson College, Shobhana Abhyankar said, “There might be various angles and reasons behind this act. It would be improper to comment on it or to hold anyone responsible for that. But I truly feel that the senior citizens must see old age as an opportunity to take forward their hobbies or to do something close to their heart,”.  

“They need to indulge in self-actualiasation. They must chalk out a bucket list and work towards it,” she said.

Savitribai Phule Pune University Sociology Department Head Shruti Tambe, as a sociologist commented that maybe the couple was critiquing our values of life that consider fast speed, big projects and distancing from social relations as the ideal way. The old citizens feel their life is meaningless as the values they cherished are lost in the current socoio-political situation hankering on success at any cost.

Psychologist Dr N D’Cruz said, “There might be ample reasons behind senior citizens taking such an extreme step. I am not talking about this particular case but most of the times people end their lives owing to financial problems, illness, emotional breakdown and many others.”

D’Cruz said that with more nuclear family culture, people feel alienated. Abhyankar added that the children stay far away in other cities or countries. Even if they want to come to meet their parents, it is not possible always either due to distance or workload. Similarly, parents become reluctant to join their children at their places. This leads to emotional space.

“We need to build community  living and be in touch with each other,” said D’Cruz.  Abhyankar said we must concentrate on the present rather than grudging the past or worrying over the future.

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