Seniors need to live for today


SENIOR citizens can be broadly categorised in two groups. The first group seems to get so caught up in missing the past that they cling on to it tightly, leaving them little time to embrace the present. By dwelling excessively on the past and in a world of their own, they have let yesterday use up too much of today. They continually dwell on their glorious past and the younger generation get put off by their never-ending self-praise.

These are the ones who always wonder what’s happening.

The second category belongs to the able-bodied seniors who are mainly focused on the future. Everything in their lives is centred on how they are going to lead the rest of their lives. To ensure financial independence and to cater for their future medical bills and healthcare, they continue to work – some work very hard indeed – also to keep enough for a rainy day.

Nothing wrong with this approach but the problem is that they are so incensed in doing what they have been doing all their lives that they fear “boredom” creeping in and feeling hopeless and insecure should they slow down or quit. The words “retirement” and “relaxation” are not in their vocabulary.

The focus of my article is on this group. (Of course there is also a third group who have traits of both groups.)

Even those who have piled up enough wealth for the rest of their lives continue to do so until it is too late. They will work until poor health sets in, by which time it is too late to enjoy a quality life for the remaining years of their life.

Take the case of my 65-year-old tosai lady. She wakes up at five every morning and prepares for the day. She closes shop at four in the afternoon by which time she has to prepare for the next day. By the time she finishes the household chores and taking care of the needs of the family, it’s already midnight and she is dead tired. When I advised her to slow down, she said she was planning to do just that (she has been telling me this for the past few years); but she admitted that since the money is good, she is reluctant to give up the business.

Is it greed that keeps her going and missing out on doing pleasurable things? You be the judge.

Some sundry senior shop owners, despite their age, operate from 7am to 9pm every day of the week throughout the year. Since business is good, they continue working due to the nagging fear that they will have nothing to do if they were to give up their business.

My tosai lady fails to realise that the money she currently is earning is actually meant for somebody else. If she does analyse how much money she really needs for the rest of her life, she would think otherwise.

There are many senior citizens like her. They forget that the hard-earned money that has been accumulated over the years in the bank is not theirs if they don’t spend it.

So in the process of thinking of the future, “we forget that this, right here and now, was once the days we longed for and will soon be the ones we miss” (quote from author John A. Ashley). We may miss out on several fronts such as failing to experience the beauty of the present moment and getting the opportunity to smell the proverbial roses and spending quality time with our grandchildren.

This group doesn’t realise that happiness resides in the here and now and that life is a journey and not a destination.

So, senior citizens, let’s make every day count and not just focus on the future. The present is here for us to savour and enjoy.

We will never be as “young” and “strong” as we are today compared to what we will be tomorrow. Some would say “Why think of tomorrow when we have today?” Yes, not only is life short (and an awesome gift) but it is also fragile and uncertain (accidents can happen any time on the road or at home) and we may not live to see tomorrow.

So let’s seize the day. Let’s make things happen (not wonder or watch what’s happening), put more excitement and zest in our life, travel more often, make someone happy, make them laugh and smile, help a friend, just to name of few pleasurable activities we should be doing.

Let’s not get too consumed by the future that we give very low priority to enjoying what we have today; future cares might have future cures; can we not just mind the things that are happening today?

Parents would want their kids to grow up quickly so that they will be easier to manage; on the other hand grandparents like me enjoy the company of our adorable and innocent grandchildren that we want time to “freeze” to enjoy the everlasting company (and hugs and kisses) of our loveable grandchildren.

For most of us senior citizens, every single day should be considered a “bonus”; every new day should be the best day of the rest of our lives.

Photo shows the writer with his two grandchildren. He is no longer chasing the money but whiles away his time doing pleasurable activities such as writing, exercising, travelling and spending quality time with his grandchildren.

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