Dr. M.C. Jain,
Ph.D (Psychology )
Old age is a age which comes in the life of everyone who exists in this world. This is the age which normally comes and the people feels after 60 years of age when their age of retirement comes. But in all the cases this is not necessary .Mostly it affects whey they are alone and feel loneliness. Old age people face three serious problems –poverty, disease and loneliness. Out of these problems loneliness is an acute problems which is considered an emotional and psychological problem tormenting the elders. This is due to the growing “empty nest syndrome”. The children go away to far off countries in search of economic betterment, service or on better jobs. Even if they live within the country, due to the spread of Western ideas such as “spacing, privacy, individualism and non-interference” the nuclear families are becoming the norm even in villages. They get deprived with the burden of single-handedly managing matters related to food, medical care, house hold work, security, finance, transportation, servants and such other types things in a country like India where the support facilities are highly inadequate.
The solution to the problem may lie in making efforts for the old age people. The older population of India, which was 56.7 million in 1991, was 72 million in 2001 and is expected to grow to 137 million by 2021.To-day India is home to one out of every 10 senior citizens of the world. Since the number is big their problems are also big. Love marriages, have further aggravated the breakup of the joint family system,. Even within joint families, the elders feel lonely owing to the denial due respect, concern and care by youngsters. The younger generation generally lacks sensitivity towards elders’ need for emotional support. All these factors have contributed to the psychological trauma called “loneliness.” It is true that the elders suffer extreme loneliness, not having anybody to share their thoughts or the burden of day-to-day management. In the city neighborhood friendships are rare, and relatives and friends are busy with their own lives. Phone call and visits become rare. Under these circumstances the “living alone” elders have no option except to rely on television. books, and computer. The phone, sometimes, keeps themselves engaged, some people resort to hobbies or do community service or take to freelance writing. In spite of the efforts to engage themselves fully, when they left alone without any human contact day after day, week after week, the old aged people become depressed, especially when they recollect their productive past and their sacrifices for the family and comp0are them with the destitute. They also get depressed with the burden of single -handedly managing matters related to food, medical care, security, finance, transportation, etc.In a country like India where the support facilities are highly inadequate. There are also growing incidents of attack on elders when they rely on strangers for certain services. In a world so fearful of old age, there may be not anyone physically close enough who recognizes the symptoms and can help them.
The solution to the problem of loneliness may lie in the elders joining senior citizen homes. But in India, these homes are not run satisfactorily. Private homes are run on profit motive and have hostel like restrictions. Another solution is to join senior citizens’ forums, so that their psychological need for social networking to fight loneliness will be met. They think it will put an end to the monotony in life through interactive programs and new friendship developing resulting in caring and sharing.
But in India, they are all working like trade unions, always discussing, drafting and presenting charters of demands to the government. They work as watertight compartments, and hence their voice is not heard by the authorities. They usually specialize in conducting health awareness programs and arrange for a talk by doctors once a month followed by question and answers session. Meeting after meeting, the same questions and answers are repeated. Members disperse without any decisions and any interaction with others. To sum up the compatibles among them become close friends and this friendship is extended to the family level too. Thus, the lonely seniors gains family friends and effective social networking is the final result. Such friends turn into supporting groups and help each other.