Love has many dimensions.
Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever – Walt Disney.
With rising numbers of single elders in our society, feelings of loneliness and isolation have become fairly common. The emotional disconnect can sometimes manifest as psychological and physical illness. Fortunately, changing mindsets have led to many elders seeking fulfilling companionship in their golden years. We believe this trend should be encouraged….. the following article is an attempt at putting things in perspective, with helpful suggestions – do please read on…
Life expectancy is rising, with better healthcare and awareness. It is estimated that by 2025, the number of elders in India are likely to increase to around 159 million. Due to various factors like the breakup of the joint family, children going abroad or living elsewhere in the country, as well as changing value system, elderly parents are often left to fend for themselves. Today, there are an increasingly large number of single elders, either living by themselves or with children….. feeling isolated, lonely and yearning for empathetic companionship.
Our society is in a state of transition, with diverse streams of thinking and viewpoints, - especially regarding societal morality and what is appropriate. But…as they say…“the times, they are a changing!”
Chronological age does not really impact the mind and heart in healthy people and it is no longer an obstacle to future happiness. Though second marriages for people in their forty’s and fifty’s have been common for some time – now, seniors aged sixty, seventy and beyond, are seeking a like-minded partner to share their hopes and aspirations, joys and sorrows, dreams yet to be realized - as well as be a support in their daily activities.
A major roadblock has been lack of opportunity to meet potential partners, due to not being socially active or mobile. Assisted Living set-ups, Community Centers and Social Activity Clubs are places where seniors can mingle and find others with similar interests. In a very welcome sign of the changing times, there are Marriage Portals and websites dedicated to finding partners for seniors. In fact, all across India, organisations have sprung up to facilitate companionship for elders. These NGO’s and Remarriage Bureaus are working enthusiastically to help the older adults find a suitable person.
Sometime back, a Chennai-based bureau helped arrange a wedding between a couple aged 78 and 76 years respectively. Wow! Of course, love and remarriage can cause legal complications initially, which is why the bureaus arrange a lawyer too, to sort out any financial issues.
Now, elders are not just remarrying, but opting for multiple choices available these days – on par with the younger generation. While some choose live-in relationships, others form friendships for travelling together on trips and outstation holidays, going on dates for outings, shopping together etc. But otherwise staying separately in their own homes -- all this points to a quantum shift in mindsets.
“It is not the years in your life, but the LIFE in your years that matters!”
Unfortunately, there are still some children and other family members who are not supportive of their elder entering into a new relationship. Adult children are concerned that the new parent/companion may be just looking for security and material comfort - and they will have to share the assets of the parent. They also don't want to have to adjust to a new person in the household, in case the parent is living with the children. Often, the children feel a sense of disloyalty to the deceased parent who's place is being taken.
Therefore, along with other relatives, they create hurdles by disapproving, non-co-operation, not "giving permission" etc. Other people - friends, neighbours and colleagues sometimes make snide remarks regarding the decision of the senior person. Such intrusive and obnoxious conduct should be firmly dealt with.
We should all accept that the full range of normal human activity and social life is possible and desirable for elders too. Ageist viewpoints persist that older people should not be aspirational or interested in romance!
There is definite evidence to suggest that having a partner of choice is conducive to a longer life-span, making the person healthier physically and emotionally, minimizing anxiety and insecurity.
It is certainly not selfish to seek happiness and comforting companionship, especially when it is not harming anyone, but rather spreading positive vibrations. Move forward with confidence, while forging a loving and nourishing relationship in your golden years!
In the sweetness of friendships, let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures and sorrows…..for in the dew of little things does the heart find its meaning and is refreshed.- Khalil Gibran.
We, at EMOHA eldercare, have always encouraged our community of elders to interact with each other. Your needs and emotional happiness is of utmost importance to us. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us. For us, it’s always #ELDERSFIRST.