Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A new era - Some Senior Citizen Association’s Actively Aging like never before

What we feel, how we think and what we do about it…. Is all in our hands!

Age is just a number, happiness a state of mind. You earned your living, your respect and now it’s time to be recognized for it. Make the changes you have only envisioned, possible. Senior Citizen Associations have started taking charge of their happiness by forming AdvantAge Chapters to stay physically, mentally and socially active with a common goal in mind.

18 senior citizens of “Varishtha Nagarik Kalyan Samiti Janaki Puram Vistar” were inspired by the Concept and formed 3 AdvantAge Chapters. They identified their locality's need and took up projects as mentioned below:
1. Promote traditional rainwater harvesting system
2. Collect old clothes & distribute amongst the underprivileged.
3. Implement a proper system for disposing plastic bags. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

We hope this enthusiasm takes over “The City of Nawabs” and also encourages other cities to follow the suit.

Picture courtesy Mr. A. K. Singh, Director & State Head (U.P.)

Freedom Fighters Enclave, a vivacious community of senior citizens who enjoy growing younger day by day, are a group, whose tales shall make you want to be a part of the action. Their Senior Citizen Association was registered in year 2004, after receiving a grant from the Government. This liberal, generous and insightful group of 35 members is now reaping the benefits of their initial struggle.

This group identified few areas which a senior citizen misses after retirement. It varied from going out and eating a simple chaat-papri to not seen a movie at the theaters from last 20 years, going for a vacation or pursuing an activity regularly. 

They took action on all these points and included a taste of these for their group members on a regular basis. They noticed that people want to be involved in activities but need to be regularly encouraged. After months of regularly pursuing their friends, these activities have become their habits now.

Pursue an Activity
The Unique Badminton Club for seniors has been formed, an initiative of Mr. K.D. Bhatia (an Executive Member of the Society). Since this club has started, it has formed a group of confident and passionate players. The age group in this club varies from 63 to 78 years. This group is the perfect example that age is no bar. 

Members of the Senior Citizens Badminton Club, Freedom Fighter Enclave

Vacation Regularly
Freedom Fighters Enclave senior citizens take out time to travel; it’s definitely done wonders for them. After a well planned and discounted especially for seniors 10 day trip to an hill station, they are all set to go to Tamil Nadu. 

Share your Happiness
Sharing is caring. Good times are meant to be celebrated in style. Collectively celebrating festivals and birthdays is part of their ritual.

Help the under-privileged
Homeopathy is a privilege to all members along with the community they live in. Medicines are provided at discounted rates.  They cater to many local areas around Freedom Fighters Enclave colony. They also annually distribute blankets to the underprivileged.

Spread the word
They are willing to lend a hand to other senior citizens groups also who would like to adopt their mantra. We call them... Super-Seniors!

Freedom Fighters Enclave’s SCA believes in enjoying the benefits of retirement- socializing, relaxing, exercise, gaming, event planning and do socially useful work; they take pride in it. 

We look forward to seeing more AdvantAge Chapters being formed.

Get ideas and get inspired! Practice Active Ageing!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Get Active! Stay Active!

Ladies of the Senior Citizen Association from  Freedom Fighter’s Enclave, New Delhi (living up to the name of their community!), have proved “Where there is a will, there is a way!” Not only have they established a sanctuary for self but also given many underprivileged girls a new beginning and an opportunity to dream. Read on and get inspired…

Sunday, 10 November 2013

HelpAge India introduces AdvantAge Chapters


The Need for AdvantAge Chapters
It is seen that before retirement, people lead an active life. They are involved in raising a family, settling their children, busy in their work life and socializing with their family and friends. After retirement their activities reduce, their children are busy in their own schedules and senior citizens end up facing neglect and isolation especially in the cities.
HelpAge India believes that leading an active and purposeful life after the age of 60 is the key to fighting isolation and neglect. A senior citizen’s happiness is largely dependent on the choice of activities that he or she chooses. 

What is Active Ageing?
Active Ageing is when we live our lives by staying active to the fullest extent, within all areas of life: physical, mental and social. We are also involved in an activity with a sense of purpose that is self-sustaining financially as it generates its own income.

What are AdvantAge Chapters?
AdvantAge Chapters are a group of at least five AdvantAge Card members. These group members come together for a purpose. This group is voluntarily involved in an activity through which they stay active physically, mentally, socially and choose an activity/ project through which they are involved in socially useful productive work.  This group raises their own funds to progress in their chosen activity.

HelpAge India believes that just meeting regularly is not the practice of Active Ageing, though we will encourage the formation of recreation groups as well, especially among those who are not inclined to engage in social work. These recreation groups have to be motivated to draw in other not-so-active elders in their activity groups so that they make an attempt to do some good in trying to end the isolation of other elders.

Possible Socially Useful Projects for AdvantAge chapters: To have a sense of purpose, these Chapters should choose an activity/ project that best suits their locality or city and is the urgent need. Following are few examples of purposeful activities related to cause of:
·         Children:
o   Raise money for buying books for children of a local slum
o   Teach slum children about Hygiene, Healthy habits
o   Provide non-formal education to needy
o   Helping under-privileged school children
·         Elders: Identify destitute elders in your city and link them to HelpAge India helpline.
·         Women: Work with disadvantaged women and make them aware of their rights.
·         Environment: Organize a campaign and implement  possible projects on-
o   Waste bins at every location near the apartments and park
o   Plastic bags disposal in your apartment complex/ locality
o   Planting trees in your city
o   Improving the drainage system in your locality
o   Building a concrete rain harvesting system in your locality
o   Collect old clothes and donate to an NGO that makes use of these for the poor.
·         Health: Organize Health Awareness campaigns not only for the senior citizens but also for society in general.

AdvantAge Chapters should be self-sustaining and self-funding. HelpAge India believes that when a group of disadvantaged women in Bihar can raise funds for Uttarakhand flood victims’ relief within their community, so can our AdvantAge Chapters. When people around them see real work happening which benefits the society, people are encouraged to donate every time.

We aim to fight isolation and neglect amongst the elders through the formation of AdvantAge Chapters and promoting Active Ageing.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Our Grandparents

Be it from Mummy’s side or Daddy’s side,
Grandparents are a blessing, on journey’s every ride.
When at birth of their Grandchild, its joy that fills their eyes,
And they soon get worried and upset at the slightest of that child’s cries.

From all the bed-time stories by Grandma,
To the learning of mannerisms from Grandpa.
Going through all of this throughout the years,
It all felt so loving and helped drive away our fears.

And taking our Result, we run back home like racers in a race,
Wanting to soon see the smiles at home, often increase our pace.
After giving it in Grandpa’s hand, we get a pat on our back,
And Grandma lovingly treats us to our favorite dish or snack.

After SSC, and HSC and finally when Graduation’s done,
Seeing their Graduate Grandchild, makes them proud; a million ton.
And every day, “A GOOD JOB, YOU MAY GET”, is what they pray,
And that you may work hard and succeed, with every passing day.

And Marriage is the next thought, once a career is set,
And Grandpa and Grandma look into every tiny detail they get.
That’s what a treasure they are, by God from above,
A Blessing, A Gift, its God’s way of showing his love. 

Cyeal Philomena Braganza

Friday, 20 September 2013

Mutation Rules of DDA, MCD, Transport Department amended to Friendly mutation rules benefiting all citizens of Delhi

It is hard to fight off the feeling that after retirement your utility to society is negligible. But the fact is, senior citizens have a wealth of experience, which if channeled appropriately, can hugely benefit society. It was this zeal that motivated me after I retired 15 years ago, as human resource person to achieve something for all  citizens of Delhi - to make Mutation Rules for Immovable property in MCD, DDA, Transport department and Land & Development Office (L&DO), citizen friendly.

In this endeavor I was helped by one person- Late Shri  H D Shourie, founder  of Common Cause and also my interest in land matters and legal knowledge. All my education while working also helped to make me tough.

My singular, constant and relentless efforts for more than a decade resulted in mutation rules of immovable property in DDA, MCD and Transport department amended. Now they do not insist  for "No Objection Certificate" from other legal heirs in case one has registered will in his favor.

It may be mentioned that earlier even for transfer of 20 year old scooter, even when one had registered will in his favor, one had to obtain no objection certificate from all legal heirs in India/abroad. No longer now.
Mutation rules of area under land & development office i.e. New Delhi area and around 80 colonies in Delhi and New Delhi are likely to be amended shortly; I have copy of legal advice given by Asstt Legal Adviser, Ministry of Law which is totally against such a rule being followed by L&DO.

Following opinion has been sent to me by Dy L&DO himself with his letter dated 9th September, 2013.
"If the will is registered under section 17 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908, no need to obtain NOCs from the other legal heirs of the deceased lessee. If it is insisted, it is nothing but a disobedience of an act passed by the parliament.................................."

It is now question of time before mutation rule of L&DO are also amended and will not insist for NOC from other legal heirs in case one has registered will in his favour. 

One may not understand and appreciate importance of changes brought about by me in mutation rules in DDA, MCD, RTO and Contemplated L&DO but it has brought relief to many families. Only those who have suffered from whims of "babus" will appreciate this.

It has taken me 7 years to achieve this single handed and no one was ever prepared to help me. In fact most discouraged me to follow this path- Difficult paths are the best paths in life and happiness which it gives to you cannot be described in writing.

Readers kindly note following: 
If  officials of  L&DO/ MCD/ DDA / NDMC Transport Department insist for NOC from other legal heirs from you even when you have registered will in your favor, please contact me for necessary advice.

Mr. Narendra Ahuja
PG DIP Manchester Business School

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

25 Simple Steps to Prevent Alzheimer's

25 seems a large number to go through but give it a try. Each suggestion is quite sensible.

Alzheimer’s strikes fear in all of us. The thought of losing your mind as you grow older is terrifying and made worse by the fact that, before now, there appeared to be little we could do to slow down or avoid Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

However research has found a lot of factors that raise or diminish the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Following these tips, you could slash your chances of developing the disease:

1. Check out your ankle
Low blood flow in your foot is a clue to trouble in your brain and a simple test can reveal its cognitive state and your likelihood of stroke and dementia. The theory is blood vessel health is similar throughout the body. The degree of clogged arteries and blood flow in the feet can suggest atherosclerosis in cerebral blood vessels. Ask your doctor for an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test which involves an ultrasound device and a blood pressure cuff that compares blood pressure in your ankle with that in your arm. To remedy any impairment of blood flow your GP may advise stepped-up exercise or a change in diet/medication.

2. Anti-oxidant-rich foods
Certain foods infuse your brain with antioxidants that can slow memory decline and help prevent Alzheimer’s. All fruit and vegetables are good but top of the list are black raspberries, elderberries, raisins and blueberries.

3. Beware of bad fats
The type of fat you eat changes your brain’s functioning for better or worse. Stay away from saturated fats which strangle brain cells causing them to become inefficient. Buy low fat or fat-free dairy products including milk, cheese and ice cream. Cut down on deep-fried foods.

4. Grow a bigger brain
Your brain starts to shrink when you reach 30 or 40 so it takes longer to learn. However scientists now believe you can increase the size of your brain through the act of learning. Try studying, learning new things or broadening your circle of friends for stimulation.

5. Chocolate Treat
Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, has sky-high concentrations of antioxidants called flavanols, which possess strong heart and brain-protecting properties. Drinking cocoa increases blood flow to the brain. Cocoa powder has twice as many flavanols as dark chocolate which has twice a many as milk chocolate. White chocolate has zero.

6. The oestrogen evidence
Sixty eight per cent of Alzheimer’s patients are women, possibly as midway through life they lose the protection of the hormone oestrogen which boosts memory. Unless your GP says otherwise, start taking oestrogen immediately at the time of menopause – starting any later risks dementia and strokes.

7. Raise good cholesterol
It’s well known that having high good-type HDL blood cholesterol protects you from heart disease. But it can also save your brain. Researchers claim it blocks sticky stuff that destroys brain cells and acts as an anti-inflammatory to lessen brain damage. Ways to ramp up good cholesterol include exercise, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and losing weight.

8. Google something
Doing an internet search can stimulate ageing brains even more than reading a book.
And MRI scans show that savvy surfers have twice as many sparks of brain activity as novices. Go online to search for information, things to buy or games to play. Although it’s not known how much it will benefit your brain, it’s better than passive pursuits.

9. The ApoE4 gene
One in four of you reading this has a specific genetic time bomb that makes you three to 10 times more susceptible to developing late-onset Alzheimer’s. The gene is called apolipoprotein E4. If you inherit a single variant of ApoE4 from one parent, your Alzheimer’s risk triples. If you inherit a double dose from both parents, your risk rises by 10 times. Ask your doctor about a DNA test to reveal your ApoE4 genotype.

10. Say yes to coffee
Coffee is emerging as a tonic for the ageing brain. It is anti-inflammatory, helps block the ill effects of cholesterol in the brain and cuts the risks of stroke, depression and diabetes, all promoters of dementia. It is also high in antioxidants and caffeine which stop neuronal death and lessen diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes that bring on dementia. For most people, a moderate daily intake of coffee, two to four cups, won’t hurt and may help.

11. Dangers of underweight
Unexplained weight loss after age 60 or so may be a sign of Alzheimer’s. A study showed that women with the disease started losing weight at least 10 years before dementia was diagnosed. Among women of equal weight, those who went on to develop dementia slowly became thinner over three decades and, when diagnosed, weighed an average 12lb less that women who were free of Alzheimer’s. Talk to your doctor about unexplained weight loss after 60.

12. Drink wine
A daily glass of wine may help delay dementia. Research says that alcohol is an anti-inflammatory and raises good cholesterol which helps ward off dementia. High antioxidants in red wine give it additional anti-dementia clout. Such antioxidants act as artery relaxants, dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow which encourages cognitive functioning.

13. Know the early signs
Memory problems are not the first clue. You may notice a decline in depth perception, for example you reach to pick up a glass of water and miss it. Or you misjudge the distance in walking across a street.
Doing a jigsaw puzzle or reading a map may also be confusing. Losing your sense of smell can also be an early clue, as well as asking the same question repeatedly or misplacing belongings in odd places (like putting keys in the fridge). Be aware of memory problems as the earlier the signs are spotted, the more successful lifestyle changes and medications are likely to be.

14. Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet, no matter where you live, can help save your brain from memory deterioration and dementia. Studies consistently find that what the Greeks and Italians eat is truly brain food. Following this diet – rich in green leafy vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts, legumes, olive oil and a little vino – can cut your chances of Alzheimer’s by nearly half. Rather than depending on just one food or a few nutrients, it is a rich menu of many complex brain benefactors, including an array of antioxidants, which shield brain cells from oxidative damage.

 15. Middle Age Obesity
Your brain cares if you are fat. A study showed obese people had 8% less brain tissue and overweight people had 4% less brain tissue than normal weight people, which according to one scientist hugely increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Moreover, brain shrinkage occurred in areas of the brain targeted by Alzheimer’s, and which are critical for planning, long term memory, attention and executive functions, and control of movement. 

Tackle signs of rising weight early, when you are young or middle aged. Oddly, being obese after the age of 70 does not raise the risk of Alzheimer’s but that doesn’t mean you should neglect exercise as it is the best way of stimulating cognitive functioning and may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s at any age.

16. Get a good night’s sleep
A lack of sleep is toxic to brain cells. Sleep has surprising powers to protect your brain against memory loss and Alzheimer’s. It is a wonder drug that helps manipulate levels of the dreaded brain toxin peptide beta-amyloid, a prime instigator of Alzheimer’s, which according to one scientist puts you at accelerated risk. Research has also found that sleeping an average of five hours or less a night is linked to large increases in dangerous visceral abdominal fat, which can cause diabetes and obesity that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Take naps and seek treatment for sleep disorders.

17. Have a big social circle
Studying the brain of a highly sociable 90-year-old woman who died from Alzheimer’s, researchers in Chicago found that having a large social network provided her with strong “cognitive reserve” that enabled her brain to not realise she had Alzheimer’s. Why this happens is a mystery but interacting with friends and family seems to make the brain more efficient. It finds alternative routes of communication to bypass broken connections left by Alzheimer’s. So see friends and family often and expand your social network. The stronger the brain reserve you build through life, the more likely you are to stave off Alzheimer’s symptoms.

18. Deal with stress
When you are under stress, your body pours out hormones called corticosteroids, which can save you in a crisis. But persistent stress reactions triggered by everyday events like work frustration, traffic and financial worries can be dangerous. Over time, it can destroy brain cells and suppress the growth of new ones, actually shrinking your brain. Sudden traumatic events like the death of a loved one or a life-changing event like retirement can leave a hangover of severe psychological stress that precedes dementia. Be aware that chronic stress can increase older people’s vulnerability to memory decline and dementia. Seek professional advice. Antidepressants, counselling, relaxation techniques and other forms of therapy may head off stress-related memory loss if treated early.

19. Take care of your teeth
Bad gums may poison your brain. People with tooth and gum disease tend to score lower in memory and  cognition tests, according to US dental researchers who found that infection responsible for gum disease gives off inflammatory byproducts that travel to areas of the brain involved in memory loss.
Consequently, brushing, flossing and preventing gum disease may help keep your gums and teeth healthy but also your memory sharper. In another study, older people with the most severe gingivitis – inflamed gums – were two to three times more likely to show signs of impaired memory and cognition than those with the least.

20. Get enough Vitamin B12
As you age, blood levels of vitamin B12 go down and the chance of Alzheimer’s goes up. Your ability to absorb it from foods diminishes in middle age, setting the stage for brain degeneration years later. Researchers at Oxford University found that a brain running low on B12 actually shrinks and a shortage can lead to brain atrophy by ripping away, myelin, a fatty protective sheath around neurons. It can also trigger inflammation, another destroyer of brain cells. Take 500 to 1000mcg of vitamin B12 daily after the age of 40. If you or an older family member has unexplained memory loss, fatigue or signs of dementia, be sure to get tested for vitamin B12 deficiency by your GP.

21. Vinegar in everything
There is plenty of evidence that  vinegar sinks risk factors that may lead to memory decline, namely high blood sugar, insulin resistance, diabetes and pre-diabetes and weight gain. Researchers in Phoenix, Arizona, have noted in studies of humans and animals that the acidic stuff packs potent glucose-lowering effects. Studies have also found it can curb appetite and food intake, helping prevent weight gain and obesity, which are associated with diabetes, accelerated dementia and memory loss. Pour on the vinegar – add it to salad dressings, eat it by the spoonful, even mix it into a glass of drinking water. Any type of vinegar works.

22. Have your eyes checked
If you preserve good or excellent vision as you age, your chances of developing dementia drop by an astonishing 63%. And if it’s poor, just visiting an optician for an eye test and possible treatment at least once in later life cuts your dementia odds by about the same amount. Exactly how vision problems promote dementia is not clear but impaired vision makes it difficult to participate in mental and physical activities such as reading and exercising, as well as social activities, all believed to delay cognitive decline. Be aware that your eyes reflect and influence how your brain is functioning, especially as you age. Don’t tolerate poor vision as often it can be corrected.

23. Eat curry
Curry powder contains the yellow-orange spice turmeric, packed with curcumin, a component reported to stall memory decline. One study showed elderly Indians who ate even modest amounts of curry did better in cognitive tests. Curcumin works by blocking the build-up of Alzheimer’s-inducing amyloid plaques (deposits found in the brains of sufferers) then nibbles away at existing plaques to slow cognitive decline.
It is recommended to eat two or three curries a week, and make it a yellow curry. Otherwise, sprinkle the spices on your food.

 24. Diabetes control
Having type 2 diabetes makes you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. Studies show it may double or triple your risk and the earlier diabetes takes hold, the higher the odds of dementia. Some experts refer to Alzheimer’s as “diabetes of the brain”. The two disorders have similar causes – obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high fat and high sugar diets, low physical activity as well as high blood sugar. In short, diabetes can deliver a double whammy to the brain, destroying neurons and increasing inflammation. Do everything possible to keep blood sugar levels low and stick to a low-saturated fat diet and regular exercise.

25. Drink more tea
Evidence suggests that tea stalls the cognitive loss that precedes Alzheimer’s and that the more tea you drink, the sharper your ageing memory is. Tea’s secret is no mystery. The leaves are packed with compounds able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and block neuronal damage.

One particular green tea antioxidant can block the toxicity of beta-amyloid, which kills brain cells. Make a point of drinking black and green tea. Don’t add milk, it can reduce tea’s antioxidant activity by 25%.

Mr. Suresh Palta, New Delhi

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Hard Earned Money in your Life- Your Last Power at Old Age

Sad, but true. In this day and age that we live.

At their 50th anniversary my friends made a decision to distribute their combined assets among their living heirs. Their rationale, “Para walang gulo” (To avoid trouble). They added one proviso: “While still alive, income from these properties will be used to maintain our present lifestyle inclusive of medical expenses, extravagant trips and unlimited shopping.”
“That’s easy” replied the heirs. The income was substantial to indulge the old folks with a bonus that the heirs can use in any manner they wanted.

The first year passed without a hitch, but soon the problem surfaced. Each child used all kinds of tactics to keep the money from his parents. It reached a point where the poor retirees had to beg for sustenance, robbing them of the dignity they worked hard to uphold.
What went wrong?

“Bad decision”, said a cautious friend who warned the couple of this scenario. “Children are so unreliable when it comes to inherited money.”

Money received, which was not expected and not a direct result of something they worked for, is not given the same value as money earned with their own sweat and tears. They lose their sense of propriety; gratitude is tainted by greed and decency gone. This is compounded by in-laws who can tilt or convince their respective spouses  to throw out good sense and filial affection like soiled rugs. “Honey, they’re going to die anyway, so why waste good money on them?”

To avoid falling into this vulnerable, pitiful state, keep these 10 tips in mind:
  1. Do not retire. If you’re over-aged, retire and get all the benefits but find another income-generating job or open a business that will keep you active physically and mentally. Travel and bond with true friends, play a sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or parish. Don’t loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you’ve become a sloppy, listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that you never bothered about before. Solve Crossword puzzles, play Scrabble, write your memoirs, and above all, Read- this will keep you alert and  keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

  2. Live in your own place to enjoy independence, privacy and a solo life. If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is reduced to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor, or worse, like crumbling furniture merely displayed with no added value. Might you kowtow to conform to their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of you? If you witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with your grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness; you are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.

  3. Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits and assets. Never gift your immovable property to your legal heirs during  your life time. Similarly never give relinquishment deed of your property in favor of your legal heirs.  Write and register your Will in favor of your spouse.If you want to help your children, do give, but not the extent that you wipe out your life’s earnings, singing heroically “not a shirt on my back, nor a penny in my name.” Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your opinion and you will be confident about yourself.
  4. Don’t believe your children’s promise to care for you when you grow old. Priorities change. Many children are not guilt-ridden or filled with a sense of moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in their lives. There are still children who would consider it a privilege  to show compassion, genuine love, and deep concerns for their parents but be warned that not all children think alike.
  5. Expand your circle of friends to include young ones who will definitely outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with the new inventions, trends, music and lifestyle including all scams and schemes you should guard against. Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons you learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.
  6. Be well groomed and smelling fresh of spring water all the time. There is nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by because you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don’t look and smell like a corpse when you’re not one yet.

  7. Do not meddle in the lives of your children. If they ask for your counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it. Their situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own terms.

  8. Do not use old age as your shield and justification for turning grumpy. There’s nothing more annoying than an arrogant old fool. Welcome each day as another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.

  9. Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a depositary of knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, making growing old a fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.

  10. Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care. Be more accepting that, sooner or later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song with humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.

Mr. Narendra Ahuja (Senior Citizen)
Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Friday, 21 June 2013

Alzheimer’s Disease – A Force to Reckon With

Alzheimer’s disease which is the cause of dementia in a large number of people can be a difficult journey for both the patient and the care giver.  Besides the obvious and terrifying memory loss quandary, there are also severe changes in the individual’s behavior patterns such as depression, rage, paranoia, etc.

It is said that the incidence of Alzheimer’s are many such as Longevity, Social and Economic problems that people face and also Oxidative stress i.e. physiological stress on body caused by cumulative damage done by free radicals inadequately neutralized by antioxidants, which is a very important risk factor.

The National Brain Research Center (NBRC) has recently started a research project that can predict a person’s disposition to Alzheimer’s disease, also Parkinson’s and dementia which have similar impact on the brain. It conducts imaging to find out the chemical changes in the hippocampus of the brain to determine whether a person may develop Alzheimer’s. In the past two years 250 candidates have been screened and over a 100 had early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  The youngest person to have the symptoms was 39 years old.

While there is no certain cure for the disease it is said that early detection will allow you to take necessary precautions, more importantly you can see a neurologist who can prescribe medication to slow down the progress of the disease. For the elderly, early symptoms are often dismissed at signs of old age, hence care givers, friends and family should be especially careful to respond promptly should they spot them in the behavior of their loved ones.

Free screening is done to detect Alzheimers early. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging test is done free of cost at the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), NH-8, Manesar, Gurgaon, Haryana 122050.
For more information call +91–124–2845 200

Monday, 10 June 2013

Am I Old? No! I am only Eighty Two!

“How old are you Mr.Sethi?”
Asked one of my present neighbors, an ex. Army officer, Major Yadav, (Incidentally Gurgaon is full of retired Army & Police Officers, all “Yadavs”) who often meet me in the morning in the nearby garden. He is taller than I am; mostly thin grey hair (most old Haryana men have salt/pepper beards & hair), but walks straight like a ramrod. He, himself is about 74 years. Whereas, I, 82 years-going on to 83, still having black hair (not dyed) don’t look my age.

He was little surprised and started calling me “Old young man”.
That’s how I am now known as in my neighborhood in Gurgaon. The disadvantage is that neither the young people take me as their age group (Hello Uncle!) nor do I fit into the senior citizen category. Not having white hair, carrying a stick, or a slow walk.
After having spent almost six years in London Circa 1958-1965, and another over 33 years in Mumbai, my wife and I moved, permanently to Gurgaon on the X-Mas day (25 December, 1999) into a nice new home built by our son. At the age of 70, to lead a RETIRED LIFE! Having worked for almost 50 years, leading an active working  and social life, I felt little uncomfortable and disjointed, initially- doing nothing, twiddling ones thumbs and just waiting for the day to come to an end, thanking God, and looking forward to the next day, hopefully!

Initially, being in a new house of your own—away from the small company apartments in Mumbai, and being close to ones relations in Delhi, it felt like home-coming. My wife and I belonged to Delhi, and had studied in Delhi University before getting married and going off to London. It built up the excitement of meeting new neighbors, meeting close relations whom we hadn’t met for years (including my own brothers & sisters and my wife’s family) setting –up new home (with old furniture) and exploring Gurgaon in the new millennium-year 2000.And having quality time, for the first time with our elder son, our daughter-in-law and our grand-daughter, who had moved from a rented place in Defense Colony to upstairs in the new House. They were working and had settled in Delhi, while both of us, my wife and I, were in Mumbai all by ourselves.. (My other younger son had settled in USA, never to come back)

BUT SOON THE BOREDOM OF DOING NOTHING became unsettling, and one had to find ways & ways of keeping busy to be fit both mentally and physical and not become victim of frustration (which was a possibility). At the active age of 70, with the life span going up to almost 90, one had to find ways of keeping ones heart, body and mind in perfect working conditions during retirement.

MY ROUTINE: - Morning Walk!  Right from day One in Gurgaon, I pledged that morning walk-swift walk-is going to be priority number 1. And, come rain or shine, I have (touch wood), never-yes, never- missed a day on this pledge for last 13 years.  Even when we go to any hill station for holidays, I never miss my morning walks (Read my blogs on Mussoorie inside out, Revisiting Mukteshwar at  www.ghumakkar.com ). Our Area Park in Gurgaon is quite big and has a pakka and a rough jogging track running along the National Delhi-Jaipur Highway No.8. The track round is about 6km; and it is about 1km each way from our house to the park. I try to leave my home around 5.30 in the morning, take 10 minutes to reach the Citizen Park, which normally is full by that time of the morning. Most of the walkers, more young than the old people, are all swift walkers. I make two rounds of that track in 54 minutes! Following the Reebok way—swing your arms, arch your feet, chin parallel to the ground, stomach in, look straight 10 yards ahead, and walk swiftly. And 12 minutes of some exercises to keep stomach flat.

I have few friends (younger by 10 years), BUT I WALK AND WALK ALONE IN THE PARK TO KEEP TO MY  RHYTHM OF WALKING. I DO IT AS AN EXERCISE. I have never been a group walker, though most of the people prefer to walk with a group of friends. There is a group of about 13 people from our area, all white hair, carrying sticks/batons, old retired gentlemen, on a leisurely stroll every morning. But too slow for me. Moreover, I find that all these retired government officers are always talking about their old office, their delayed pensions and their cracking bones etc. I have no pension to talk about. I have no answer when I am asked which department I retired from, not ever being a government servant.

WHAT I MISS is my participation in the Annual Delhi Half Marathon. As Part of my “keeping- Fit” pledge during my retired life, I had started participating every year, in the senior citizen class, in the Delhi Half Marathon till my car accident, few years back, while going for the Marathon (You can see my blog “Are you alive to being alive?” about it on www.speakingtree.in ). Writing blogs is another activity which keeps me mentally busy and alert.

At Annual Delhi Half Marathon
We have two small patches of lawn in front, as a part of our house; and a large patch at the back where my wife grows vegetables for everyday use plus papayas and Guavas, depending on the season. Front lawn has miniature oranges, flowers, foliage and Kadam Tree and Tulsi plant. It now attracts butterflies, squirrels bulbuls and common sparrows. It’s wonderful to see these creatures build their nests on palm plant and greens. It’s a great way to keep oneself miles away from boredom. And you are, at the same time, helping the environment- a small contribution, but a contribution, no doubt. Try it.

I do that, off & on! One to keep myself mentally occupied, keep my memory alive and not become senile and forgetful. It also leaves a little history for your children to learn about your inner self. Now a days, with Google being there, your writing gets noticed by the global audiences. I give you an example-

One of my blogs about my memories of the place of birth, Lyallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan) was posted on the web www.indiaofthepast.org. Would you believe that I got mails from Canada, USA, Pakistan from people who were in my class and school, and knew our family closely. My nieces & nephews, living in USA (who I have never met) were thrilled to know their family background and me. They have become good friends and we are regularly in touch. It gives such an emotional satisfaction to build lasting relationship, between the young and the old.

Similarily, my other blog, on the same web page is about my college days in Delhi, titled “DELHI -
MEMORIES OF ‘50” created a lot of correspondence from the people who were regulars in the India Coffee House those days, including the ex Prime Minister, late I.K.Gujral.
Whenever I come back from a holiday, I write about our trip and post it. It helps other people who want to visit those places, plus it becomes a record for the family and children. For inspiration, you can read my posts about Shimla “DOING NOTHING IN FAGU”, “MUKTESHWAR REVISTED”, “INSIDE OUT MUSSOORIE” & “VISIT TO HOLY CITY BY THE WANDERING MIND” on the website www.ghumakkar.com 

Idea is just to write, put your thoughts down; right or wrong, corrections can be done afterwards. JUST KEEP CLICKING YOUR KEYBOARD. Soon you will get it right.
Computer and Internet offers such a relief to us retired people to keep us away from deathly boredom and mental inactivity - as long as you don’t misuse it. My father, an advocate in Lyallpur, quite young after partition, just about 65, when came to Delhi as a refugee, had nothing to do. It’s the sheer boredom of doing nothing that killed him. Our generation is lucky we have so many other modern avenues to keep ourselves busy and young.

I am not much of a TV watcher and I am certainly not a “Couch Potato”. I prefer to read books which I normally purchase on the net, quite regularly. My preference and liking is for historical novels, biographies- both Indian and foreign. I have recently finished a book named “The Twentieth Wife” by Indu Sunaresan. It is about Mehrunnisa - one of India’s most legendry empress- Jahangir’s twentieth wife. I think you should find what you like and buy your own books, if you really want to make a serious reading habit. Book reading for people with lot of time at their hand is a must to have a purposeful life, and not feel frustrated in old age. My last reading was the, now popular “Shiva Trilogy”, and “Krishna’s Key”. Over the 13 years of retirement, I have collected a good library of mine (now I need a good book shelf). Cultivate this good habit.

First of all, because I was born in Undivided India, when Urdu was the court language, and essential in all schools along with Hindi. We learnt Urdu from class one. But love of Urdu poetry & music came after partition, in Delhi of 50. Delhi, at that time, with the patronage of Pt.Nehru, used to be the hub of cultural hyperactivity. Three day Urdu Mushaira in memory of Sir Shankerlal at Chelmsford Club, and three day classical music function at Constitution Club were the annual highlights of old Delhi. These functions used to last whole nights—and no one used to walk out till the end. We, the students, used to memorize every poem of Jigar & josh (Nehru’s favorite - who later went away to Pakistan). That love has lasted till today. One was lucky to have heard the great poets and listened to some of the greatest music maestros of India. Long dead & gone!

Whenever I feel little down in life, I take out an Urdu poetry book, from my collection—consisting of Iqbal, Ghalib, Mir, Majas Faiz et-all, and read the appropriate poem to keep my mental balance. Now that the Urdu poetry books are available in Hindi & Roman Urdu, try reading them loud and see you will be on seventh heaven. If you don’t want to buy books, go to any website for Urdu poetry through google and read any poet you like. Google is a treasure trove.

As I said, our generation is lucky to have the Internet & Google.
No death by boredom or old age.

My recipe  for old age and for retired people is- physical activity; write blogs or your daily dairy, anything just write; buy and read books (don’t lend them, make your library); do gardening anywhere, if you don’t have open place; listen to music loud (if no one else has an objection!). My favorite old film songs are- Dev Anand movie JAAL "Yeh Raat Yeh chandni phir kahan, sun jaa dil ki dastaan” & Kishore Kumar’s “Mere mahboob kayamat ho gi..”. My other love is Jazz, old Jazz.

AND read poetry—any you like—Punjabi (Amrita Pritam), English or Urdu or Hindi. But do read.
We, old retired people are lucky that we have enough time to sit and dream and enjoy, unlike busy bees today, but don’t just sit and twiddle your thumbs.

I am, at the end, reminded of a recent short incident. My wife and I, after doing our monthly shopping with fully loaded trolley, at the Needs Store at DLF Gurgaon, stood behind an old well dressed Sardarji with a single item of baked beans tin in his hand patiently waiting for his turn. Being the first of the month, the queue was pretty long with customers and their overloaded trolleys. I asked “Sardar sahib, why are you wasting your time, standing in this long queue for just one item- why don’t you buy one item from a small shop at Galleria?”

You know what he replied? (stretching his all) “Well I have all the time in life".
Not a way to go through old age.

Yes, one does sometime feel that we are wasting our time (still being active & agile) not being gainfully employed. May be time will come when someone will RESERVE jobs for the “young old”, beyond the retiring age of 65, especially when the life span is touching 90!

Submitted by Mr. Jatinder Sethi, Gurgaon

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Abounding Energy - Age is no Relevance

Here is a brief of my daily activity at this prime, old age of 85+. How I keep myself fit physically, healthy and happy mentally.
1. By grace of God and my parents, I have been blessed with a disease-free body.
2. I relish vegetarian diet as I am born among a traditionally vegetarian family.
3. Human body is a just like an Engine, needs energy, ie HORSE POWER.
    To this I add, WILL POWER, GOD POWER.

   I believe, and very confidently so, that humans must live upto 100 years, their natural age limit.
   For this, I daily muster "Will Power and God Power",
   former through care-free "Active Life" and latter "Prayer" for a while. 

4. To ensure body fitness, ensure that, "Your Head is Cool, Your Stomach is Soft, Your Feet are Hot".
"Peir Garam, Peit Naram, Sir Thanda". I observe this Indian Saying and I am proud that I never need medical aid in life, so far. 
5. I am a Widower. Unfortunately, I lost my wife in a road accident 25 years back. Since then, I have realized that being single, I have to take extra care of my health. Only your better half is worried about your health and life.
6. I have a family of three sons and two daughters. All the five are well settled with their individual families separately. Although I am a "Single Parent" to them, I don't worry for them unless they are sick. God forbid. Yet, as a responsible single parent, I am always concerned about their welfare.
7. At my sweet-home, "Whispering Palm", I enjoy my old age with my youngest son, daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter. All of them are adults. All are very caring, loving for me.

And above all they have HUMAN TOUCH for me - this GRAND OLD MAN.
It is because of their human touch quality that they endevour to keep me alive - happy and healthy upto 100. I feel I am one of the most fortunate senior citizen on earth. 
Thank God. Thank my Inner Family. Thank HelpAge India.

"If you are physically fit and happy, only then you can be mentally and morally healthy also.
This is TRUE not only for an INDIVIDUAL, but also for a NATION."

On Horse Back at Musoori Hill Station
"Me, a pampered gentleman, I too value horses.
Horses do respond in return to my love, they give me HORSE POWER"
Submitted by Mr. Manmohan Sethi, Rohini, Delhi

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Advice on Legal Issues

HelpAge India has empanelled two advocates to assist the elderly on writing of wills and other legal matters–either pro bono or at reduced rates. 

Following are the details of the empanelled advocates:

Ms. Meeta Chaudhury
B-223 A, FF, Greater Kailash- I
New Delhi – 110048
Email: meeta.chaudhury@gmail.com
Phone: 9968215981
Ms. Anisha Gupta
435 GF, Jungpura Extension,
Main Mathura Road,New Delhi
Email: anishaadv@gmail.com
Phone: 9873333620, 9312833620
Lawyer’s Chamber No. 273
Delhi High Court, New Delhi