Why are we not able to understand our elderly and be a part of their happiness?
When was the last time when you sat with your grandparents to have a little ‘chit chat?’ Do you remember when was the last time you went outside to have fun with them? Do they live in a separate town? Okay then. When was the last time when you visited them and were truly present there for them and with them? In today’s world, things have changed a lot; ways of communicating, understanding each other and interacting with each other. We can see ourselves becoming technologically advanced, but in return, that has impeded us from being emotionally present. Who are elderly exactly? Some say they are people above the age of 60 or 65 and they are also called senior citizens. Humans go through different stages of life and their experiences and cultural teachings influence their emotions and behaviors. It is known that in India, elderly people in the house are considered to be the authoritative figures and are treated with respect and care. They get a role in decision making and are considered to be an important part of the family. We all must be having an elderly at our home or if not, we must have had them in some point of our lives.
We all have our different ways of feeling and expressing happiness. Most importantly it differs from age to age. Happiness for kids can be playing with their friends, getting an extra hour to watch cartoon or going out. For adults, it could be getting a day off from work, going out with friends or just watching Netflix for hours. But what happiness for adults is like? How do they derive happiness and what are the primary sources? Their sources differ from the other age groups. Each and every age has few traits that are shared by the population of that age group, like kids are energetic, playful, and full of life. Adults are mostly career oriented, dedicated, trying to establish themselves and more aspects like that. Elderly age has a slightly different set of traits that are restrictive in nature. Let us check how things are for them and their foundations in culture.
As it was mentioned earlier, elderly people have restricted sources of happiness and for most of them the only option is to rely on other people to get it. Let us take an example of using a mobile phone. They depend on learning in from other members of the family, but when they learn to use it, they feel happy about it. This is such a small thing which makes them happy.
Dependence is what needs to be seen from a different perspective. Most of the things that they encounter in today’s world are completely new to them. Let it be advancement in science or a cultural change. It takes them time to understand it because their thought process is conditioned in a different way and they find it difficult to understand it from a vision of today’s perspective. For them, it’s like forming and processing a new chunk of information and that is what they cherish. They could find it difficult to develop a certain required pattern but, they do so because they want to fit in with today’s world and at the same time in their families. It is just a small aspect, but learning new things that makes them happy as they get an opportunity to feel that they can still learn and develop new understandings of the things that are coming in their way. Now the point that comes in here is that, they could take a lot of time to develop an understanding and a certain amount of patience is required. But we forget that even we went through that age where we used to depend on our parents for almost everything. Helping them to be able to learn things can make them feel accepted and it can fill them optimism and a source of security.
Happiness for them is an emotion that is sharable and something that is derived from the outer world. In India, there is a collectivistic culture and thought processes are shaped in accordance with that. Collectivistic culture means a culture in which the needs and desires of the group is the priority. The role of elderly here is that, in most of the cases they feel happy when the other members are happy. Because of the idea of collectivistic culture, they feel that happiness is something that will come from other people and it is something that cannot be derived purely by doing what the person as an individual wants to do. It is a sort of restrictive cognitive aspect in terms of thinking but again, it’s about the way one has been conditioned and what he or she has been observing from years. For them, happiness can be seeing their loved ones thriving and having a celebrated life. For them it’s about others. The way in which they have been processing happiness has shaped its meaning of it in their life. They don’t think from an individualistic point of view, everything in their life is associated with the members of family.
They have their experiences and they also bring them happiness when they reflect on the simplicity of it. They could have been missing on the joy of things that the future had for them but they definitely enjoyed what they had in their time. Having someone with whom they can share their experience is an ultimate pleasure. They have these wide experiences which are not just only filled with the emotions of happiness but also tells them that how they managed everything and became the kind of person that they are. We as humans have created boundaries around ourselves that not just limits our spaces but, they also restrict the space of other person who is connected with us.
We know how to complain that the elderly people won’t understand our perspective and there is an age gap. It could be true to a certain extent, but they have experience but do we them try to change this thing or talk to them about it? It could mean a lot for them. Abandoning someone just because you think that the other person won’t get you is not a rational aspect. They could have felt better by just thinking about themselves and acting in their own ways, but because of what they have learned and processed emotions keeps on influencing them. We can try to understand this by putting our feet in their shoes. Little acts of kindness and just a little amount of time could be it to motivate them and boost them.
They might not be updated with all the details of the world but they have experiences which can teach you things that can really help you to look at life from a different angle. With all the experiences they have an amazing emotional intelligence and still, they choose to be happy by associating them others. The lack of selfishness and sensitivity toward others is what that can be learned. Another interesting thing could be to stop judging them if they do not behave in the ways we expect them to be, or putting in other words; according to the stereotypes that has been created for elderly by the society. How we form a perception and how we perceive the understanding of others are also important. It could be a source of happiness for our elderly, even if it might not be for us. If the elderly gets it, that is just enough for them to feel happy and accomplished. They feel that they are accepted and connected with those people who truly care for them. Just by trying to enhance the concepts and ideas one has created and developing a sensitivity towards those who care for us, is what we need to develop and understand its importance can mark the beginning of something new and happiness for the old people. We cannot just ask the elderly to change the way they understand happiness just because we do not identify with their ways. Rather, we can try to understand it and those factors that have led to the formation of that source of happiness. They have been influenced by the collectivistic idea of the culture, but that might have enriched them with such experiences that are still rooted in them. It shows their lack of selfishness and high level of empathy and sympathy. These are the aspects that can be celebrated and they should know how effortlessly beautiful they are.