Translated by Shubhada Kamthe.
Traditionally, ageing in India was not a problem largely because of the strong family structure. However, change is an essential feature of any society and in India the social structure has been undergoing transformation due to the breakdown of the joint family system, increased life spans, nuclear family structure, urbanisation and globalisation, resulting in attitudinal changes, particularly in the younger generation.
The elderly face three main issues: health and medical problems, financial insecurity, and, worst of all, loneliness. The nuclear family system has deprived the elderly of family ties and emotional attachment much needed in old age. More and more elderly people are shifting to old age homes for a better life. Senior citizens are also becoming soft targets for criminal elements and being subjected to physical and emotional abuse within the household.
In The Art of Ageing, S. K. Kulkarni, an active octogenarian, stresses the importance of planning for a happy, healthy and secure old age. He discusses the four stages of life and how the lifestyle in the first two stages affects life in old age. He addresses the problems faced by the elderly, suggesting how each can be met by the government, by private organisations, by children and, just as importantly, by the elderly themselves. With inputs from medical and financial experts, and a list of resources for the elderly, The Art of Ageing is an essential and practical resource for the elderly as also for the young who want to ensure a comfortable and happy older life.