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Active Ageing: Healthy & Wise

On 3 October, around 50 people gathered at Bihani Social Venture and watched a film presentation by Anthropologist, Roberta Mandoki on how people are ‘Ageing in South Asia’. One of the clips showed an elderly Nepali man suggesting his peers about secure ageing. He says that no matter how well you know and want the best for your children, you must set aside some money for yourself for a secured old age.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2001 explained active ageing as the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life (QOL) as people age.

“Active ageing to me means looking at what has gone by and looking forward to each new day with an exciting plan.” Megh Ranjani Rai, 61, DRR Emergency Personnel
“Active ageing to me means looking at what has gone by and looking forward to each new day with an exciting plan.”
Megh Ranjani Rai, 61, DRR Emergency Personnel

Breaking the age stereotype, Mandoki during her session emphasised that as per her research findings, not all elders were isolated and that most elders were ageing in many different active ways post-official retirement and otherwise. For example, it was shown that the “Delhi Yoga Sangathan (Delhi Yoga Organisation) was founded in 1977. Since then people have met daily early in the morning under a small pavilion in Deer Park for yogic exercises and bhajans (religious singing).” On the weekdays, 12-15 people turn up to exercise together while on weekends 50 to 60 people come together to share tea, cookies and celebrate occasions such as birthdays.

In Nepal, elders were shown to be mostly engaged in groups reading newspapers, sitting in open spaces, and having tea. The presentation quoted 90 year old, Hari saying, “Children require other children as friends as they learn from each other. Elderly require elderly friends to share their stories for time pass and a peaceful mind.” Moreover, Mandoki emphasised that while there are some senior citizens living in old-age homes in Kathmandu, the majority are living at home.

An article written by Sophie Knight titled ‘Which Cities Have the Oldest Residents?’ in The Guardian’s cities column mentioned that for a quarter of Japanese population comprising of people above the age of 65, being in the workforce “isn’t just a personal triumph; its fast becoming a social necessity.”

“Active ageing for me is living life without stress and staying mentally and physically engaged.” Rita Adhikari, 50, Homemaker
“Active ageing for me is living life without stress and staying mentally and physically engaged.”
Rita Adhikari, 50, Homemaker

In the near future, the population dynamics is set to change drastically for the first time. The WHO has predicted that in just four years, which is by 2020, the world’s population of people aged 60 and above will be more than children below five years of age. Furthermore, in context to Nepal, there is strong evidence that migration of younger people from Nepal to developed countries and internally from rural to urban areas has found some older people isolated and in need of care. Not only that, increasing life expectancy, decreasing fertility rate and the use of contraception appear to be some factors that is widening this gap. Therefore, somewhat similar to how most elders in countries like Japan are embracing active ageing, elders in Nepal will have to find or continue to find opportunities to actively age prioritising on all three aspects; health, participation and security for an empowered sense of ageing.


Bihani Social Venture, a social enterprise that provides positive engagement opportunities to people above the age of 50, hosted the session ‘Ageing in South Asia’ to commemorate 1 October 2016 as International Day of Older Person. Bihani dedicated the first week of October to senior citizens by conducting various activities.