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MAGIC OF CHOICE – Embrace Your Age as you Help Others Age

There are four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers; those who are caregivers; those who will be caregivers; and those who will need caregivers – said Rosalynn Carter, former first lady of the United States.

Believe it or not, caregiving, if not a hot topic, has become one of the growing needs in every family or household. From joint family systems to nuclear living, it has now become a need for ageing communities to share living spaces.

The ageing populations are facing problems related to limited finances, fear of dementia, fear of losing physical, mental and socio-economic appeal, and communication gap along with loss of confidence, loss of authority and identity in the family.

As we are all aware, the current ageing population of 60 years and above will reach 1.4 billion by 2030 and 2.1 billion by 2050 from the current population of 962 million for the first time in the world history. And even the children of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s will be in that demographic figure. Are we prepared for that? And what to extent, is the main question?

Human life expectancy rate, no doubt, has increased incalculably in the past few decades with advanced science and technological study of human anatomy and longevity. But is life just meant to be counted in numbers and spent with technology?

Though there are improved health cares, sophisticated lifestyle and financial growth, there is one group called the ‘Sandwich Generation’ which all of us are missing out on unintentionally. They are the self-dependent age group especially in their 30s and 40s who needs to look after their ageing parents while nurturing their own children. This is the gap or space which needs to be filled in. It is such a crucial point of life where career, family, finance, social status along with living life to the fullest are integrated. For the nuclear families, child or elderly care centres are options but for others, the home is the best care centre. But does this restrict them the elderly and the caregiver and their quality of life?

There are a lot of options and magic in choices that help people engage and explore their interests, hobbies or needs at any given age towards living life to the fullest. There are many mind-refreshing activities and areas of interest that can help overcome ageing problems by preventing social isolation, dependency, depression or even as a new hobby or someting to strike off your bucket-list.

#1. Yoga, Tai-Chi or Meditation
When it comes to holistic well-being, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi-gong, meditation, pranic healing, pycho-social support (PSS), etc. are proven-techniques towards the inner journey of mind, body and soul at any given age.

#2. Language and Literature
Reading a book, newspaper or blog can be a great source of information, knowledge and the best investment of time. Learning a new language might be difficult but it can be an asset for the rest of your life. Even audio books, blogging and freelance writing can help prevent loneliness while creating beautiful literary masterpieces from the old stories, moments, anecdotes and oral history.

#3. Music and Dance
Research states that an aging brain will be in better shape if you have taken music lessons. Playing music improves your ability to discern sounds. Moreover, as a cognitive intervention to help aging adults preserve and even build skills, musical training holds real promise. Age is no barrier for enjoyment.

#4. Art and craft
Arts improve the quality of life for older people. Engaging in arts and crafts can help in cognitive abilities and memory improvement for people who are at risk of social isolation, intergenerational gap as well as to prevent dementia and depression in worst cases.

#5. Social Networking
Making phone buddies, learning new application or software to design, photography, social media groups/communities, potluck gatherings, cultural festivals, and intergenerational activities are a few option in networking and communication. Technology can support people living with dementia to manage risks, improve quality of life and stay in their own home for as long as possible.
According to Dorte Just, 75 , from Denmark who is helping few of the old age homes in Nepal, “First of all, everybody should be cared for. For the elder who has been working for others their entire life, we definitely need to give something back. They need to feel that they are contributors. To be a good caregiver, we have to know about their life and their diseases in order to deliver the best treatment. There are different ways to care for the elders. Along with respect and support, they need to be listened to, some need a hug while everybody needs a lot of smiles and emotional connection. Clean environment, personal hygiene, healthy food, exercise and traveling once in a while would be the best experience for the elders.”

More activities in the link:
Suman Rai is the Social Activities Coordinator at Bihani Social Venture. He can be reached at: sumanrai.bsv@outlook.com
Bihani is a social venture born out of the need to create a positive outlook to life and living meaningfully with focus on individuals above fifty years of age (but not restricted to it) who want to re-engage, re-explore and re-live a new beginning or create a rewarding life second half of their lives based on their past experiences.