MUHARRAM - SAFAR 1424 H
Volume 17-03 No : 207
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Senior citizens in the Muslim community are all set to work for the upliftment of the society even in their old age
By M. Hanif Lakdawala
#Mohammed Arif, 67, a textile merchant suffers from bouts of depression as the business is taken over by the caring sons. He feels life is meaningless without involvement in the Business.
#Sadique Hassan, 61,has nothing to do after retirement from a Pharmaceutical company. His biggest worry is how to spend time.
#Rauf Patel, 71,feels isolated at home after getting a mild heart attack which forced him to retire from the business.
It is heartening to note that the elderly members of our society, those aged 60 and above, are increasing in number, thanks to greater health awareness and better medical facilities.
Sadly, however, for many, ageing spells a lonely process with no goal left in life except to cling to the past- when their young needed them, they surrounded them - and now they await a bleak future. In such cases, lack of companionship and constant brooding often gives rise to a multitude of illnesses, both physical and mental in nature. Of the mental disorders that affect the elderly, depression is one of the most common and debilitating.
However, depression is not a predictable consequence of ageing, and should never be written off as a natural part of getting older. On the contrary, depression is a disease and failure to treat it paves the way for far-reaching and dire consequences. A depressed person cannot cooperate as effectively with treatments for other health conditions, risking unnecessary worsening and complications.
Elderly people who suffer from depression lose much of their enjoyment of life's pleasures, rely more heavily on medical services, and even die earlier than those who are not depressed. Fortunately, depression can be treated. Medications and psychotherapy are known to be extremely effective in countering the disease, but they are basically cures for the illness. However, as they say, prevention is better than cure, and what better way to avoid being bogged down by incapacitating thoughts than by spending some refreshing moments with one's friends.
The company of friends serves a double purpose - it helps one to pass one's time happily and is extremely therapeutic at the same time. Happily, there are many groups of enterprising senior citizens who keep themselves young at heart by indulging in a hobby that they pursue on a regular basis. On meeting them, one discovers how alert their minds are and how content and completely occupied they are with their involvements.
Take the group of women that meets every Saturday between 2.30 and 6.30 pm to exchange either recipes or remedies to stay fit and healthy. The senior-most of the foursome, Zainab Hyder, is 88 years old. She is the senior most, but also the most active. "Ageing is more of a psychological process and less of the physical. If one controls the thought process through prayers and Yoga, it is possible to remain fit and active even at my age" she said. "I act as the chief counselor of the group".
Hasina Shaikh 69 is member of the Zainab Hyder group. She is responsible for searching sources for the different latest recipes and share it with the other group members. "Even at this age, we all are very active and use the latest recipes to attract attention of our family members towards us," she said.
Another very active group of senior citizens meets regularly to go on a short distance trip and relax close to the nature. Saeed Ahmad 66, Iqtedar Ali Khan 63, Mazhar Karim77 and Irfan Shamsi 74 have been going on a short trip 15 to 17 years, although not necessarily always as a foursome. In fact, there are two others in the group, who were out of town at the time of this interview, who also join them regularly.
Saeed handles the logistic part of the trip whereas Irfan takes care about making the trip enjoyable. " At least once in a month, we go on a 3 -day short distance trip where we can get greenery, open space, and clean air. We just relax and take our mind off the routine issues and other problems," said Saeed. "The trip recharges us and for the remaining days, it keep us motivated to discover new places to explore" said Irfan.
Yet another group of ladies meets regularly to exhibit their hobbies. Spearheaded by Munni Wahid 62, who initiated the process by organising exhibition of home -made pickles, here the objective is not sale, but demonstration of the art or talent. She then teaches those who are interested in knowing the recipe.
Similarly, Zohra Aziz 64, another group member, has fond memories of organizing an exhibition of her embroidery work, which she has collected over decades as a hobby. "My first exhibition was so successful that it started the trend. Many teenagers requested to use my design for their outfit".
Malika, 58, Jamila, 52 are other members. The foursome, who were busy as housewives are now having plenty of spare time after their children's marriage. We meet every Saturday between 3 and 7 pm planning either for the exhibition or get-together. However, our get-together is not like any other kitty party, but a meet with a purpose of contributing our share towards community upliftment," said Jamila.
For Abdul Malik, 61,Razzak Hussain 66,Rehan Baig, 71,old age has given them time to re-kindle the interest in their hobbies and also strengthen their friendship bond. Malik loves Photography and now has enough time for it. "I love reading, but hectic business schedules hardly gave enough time to read. But now I am making up for the lost time" said Razzak .Social work is the passion of Rehan. "Now I try to utilise my contacts in the society to help the deprived section. The three meet every week to share their hobbies and passion. Hence, it does not take much to enjoy a long and happy life. All you need to do is get yourself into the habit of spending some moments with your friends in a pastime that you all enjoy - the younger you start the better - and then let your cherished moments eventually become valuable hours that see you through a wholesome, ripe old age.
The writer can be reached at email@example.com
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