Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#44. Safe Way to Live

Jeene ki Raah
(Safe way to Live)

I am in the wrong side of sixties, and, therefore, I can be easily called a middle-aged person in firangi terms, and buzurg or Buddha in the native tongue. Apart from seeing every part of my body slowly losing their old suppleness, there is plenty of time now after retirement to ponder over and ruminate on all the pains, aches and several ailments that I never took notice of during the days of yore when I kept busy from morning till evening. It is only now that I have been able to appreciate the full meaning of what Nirala wrote almost three quarter of a century back:

Main akela dekhta hoon aa rahi mere divas ki sandhya bela/ adhpake hain baal mere/
(I am alone, watching the dusk of my day./ My hair has gone half-grey/).
Nirala died at 65, an age which we consider not very old now, But surely he would have started feeling the slow decline of the power and stamina of young days.

Anyway, to come back to the main theme, over the years I have gathered several tips, and tried to evolve some of my own which enables to you live safely, and with less complications over the years till you become ‘dear to God.’ There is nothing very deep about the maxims, just simple precautions to save you from any mishap. I am also adding some suggestions which I have keenly felt about, and which have not been adopted or followed by the different organisations.

1. Always keep your bathroom dry. A wet bathroom is the breeding ground for moss and fungus, making the floor slippery on which you can easily fall, cracking your skull (like one of my friends, a retired police officer, tall and heavily built), or a bone, and in old age bones take their own sweet time to join. One of my relations who had a fall in the bathroom in the night was lying un-attended till morning when it was too late. His wife was away to their son's place. Another acquaintance of mine died only a couple of days back after he had a fall in the bathroom, although he was having various other ailments. Use a wiper for the bathroom. Rubber wipers with long handle are easily available. Use it after every bath. My brother-in-law does it, and I started to appreciate it much later. Incidentally, some of the non-stick tiles available in the market are worse, as their uneven surface readily collects small quantity of water, gathering moss. And then, never try to walk tiptoe in the bathroom. You will be inviting a fall.

2. Do not tuck your socks in your shoes when you remove them. Keep them in the open. Better have a small basket for socks. This simple act will keep them smell-free and free of bacteria infestation. Generally we land up with socks which are essentially of 2 or 3 basic dark colours. In such a case tie the two of the pair loosely so that you do not have to ‘mix and match’ everytime you are going out. And when putting them in the washing machine or the hanger for drying, make sure the two of a pair of socks are put together. More than once I have seen one isolated sock lying forlornly at the bottom of the washing machine, or when you go to collect the dried clothes, you find one sock missing.

3. If you are old-fashioned enough to use a brush and shaving cream, do change the brush every 3-4 months. Better use the foam. You will save yourself from chin infection with a troublesome boil. Your tooth-brush also should be similarly changed.

4. Agreed that leather soles are the sign of a gentleman, but for everyday life please forget about leather soles. Buy shoes with non-skid soles. The more so for chappals and slippers which you carry to the bathroom as well. No slippery rubber or leather soles.

5. Elderly people may remember that their forefathers started using walking stick at an early age - in early forties and sometimes in their thirties as well. It was considered more of a fashion accessory. Of course in India one did not carry a tightly folded umbrella instead, as luckily it does not rain as often in our country. The walking stick is very useful and a big support in long walks and treks, and it so helpful for those who are in the initial stages of osteo-arthritis. Now you get decent orthpaedic sticks which are adjustable, and not as flimsy as some of the earlier ones used by nabobs and zamindars. Don’t be ashamed to use it especially when it has been recommended by your doctor. True that several young maidens will start calling you Uncle, but what difference does it make? You should not be lamenting as Keshav did a few centuries back:

Keshav kesan as kari/ Jas arihu na karahi/ Chandravadani mrigalochani/ Baba kahi kahi jahi/ (Grey hair has done to me as no enemy could have done. Lovely moon-faced and doe-eyed maidens have staaaartedcalling me Baba_ grandfather!)

7. Next, to repeat a cliché, some exercise everyday If you do yoga, or go to a yoga centre apart from a morning walk that is best. Better to go to a yoga centre. They spend about 90 minutes with you, and that length of time you probably won’t be able to devote at home. Generally the yoga centre concentrates on three themes: yogic exercises, pranayam and dhyan (or dharna which is the first step to dhyan). Yogic exercises keep all the joints of your body lubricated so that you do not get afflictions like arthritis, frozen shoulders, cervical spondylosis, lower back pain etc. Pranayam is to see that every nook and cranny of your body gets oxygen which normally gets only a measly quantity. This would mean that all parts of your body are in a normal healthy state even in old age. Of course, if you start yoga at a time when you are already suffering from some ailment, yoga can surely let you remain at the point where you have already reached, and in some cases actually curing it! And dhyan or dharna (meditation) keeps your power of concentration intact which very often deteriorates in old age. Mind you, yoga is not only for the aged but for the young also. If one starts at an early age, maybe he will be able to ward off several aches, painand maladies which he could otherwise get.

8. Next in line is driving. Many obese people later in life start suffering from sleep apnea where a person can doze off from time to time. Such persons should desist from driving. Most of the driving accidents in India happen from sleepy drivers of both small and heavy vehicles who have erratic and heavy duty hours. This is especially true for long distance taxi and truck drivers who hop from one duty to another. But sadly, the elderly are hardly aware of the hazard they are putting themselves into while driving. There is no disputing the fact that as you grow up in age, your reflexes slow down. The Air Force realizes it too well, and Group Captain and above are hardy put in active flying duty.

9. Just a piece of advice which may not be palatable to many. Never stay permanently with your children. You should have a home of your own which you can come back to after a visit to your children. Then unless and until you have sufficient property to have 3 or 4 sizeable shares, Never give away your property during your lifetime to your children, and not keep anything for you and your spouse. In any case after you and your wife, the property will be your children' so what's the hurry.

10. Lastly, keep your mind active by brain games like sudoku and bridge. You save yourself from dementia, aphasia, Alzheimer’s disease and whatever. Although I never enjoy solving a sudoku puzzle (mainly because I haven’t been able to go beyond the easy ones). And being a mediocre player of bridge who does not care to remember cards, I am a persona non grata to my partner. But I do try to be mentally active by sending you people sermons like this. Maybe this does the trick.

Some Suggestions

There are not many, except for the few where I have been holding the wrong end of the stick.

1. Have you ever tried to read the description on the strip of a medicine, or several other user’s manuals. Many a time I have used a magnifying glass to decipher. The task of reading becomes more difficult as most of the pills are packed I shiny metal packing. Why shouldn’t larger fonts be used as most of the medicines are meant for the aged whose eyesight is not as good it used to be. One of my friend reports that in most of the European countries the fonts and buttons on telephones etc. are bigger so that they can be used easily by old people. The same problem is there for mobile handsets buttons. People with thick fingers always find it difficult.

2. The second is the acute shortage of decent old age homes. Lonely old men would find it difficult to care for themselves unless they are well-off to hire help. Many a time children go away to distant lands to make a career for themselves. Most of the old age homes in India are meant for the destitutes which is good, but the time has come in India with growing life expectancy to cater for the people who can pay a reasonable amount.

Any suggestion from the readers which could be added is welcome.

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