Categories: Namaskar Y'all

Shyama Parui


By Shyama Parui

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Who is the wrinkliest of them all?”

Asked no one!

Snow White’s stepmother wished to remain the fairest, Rapunzel’s captor desired eternal youth and innumerable characters from tales of fantasy, chased the elixir of life. In the real world, would surviving to a ripe old age be a relief or a blessing?

Sitting in the arc of middle age, I have the opportunity, no, privilege to reflect on my past decades and wonder about the future.

I don’t even know if I can assume there will be a whole decade let alone multiple decades left. Aging sounds dreadful but I am hoping it isn’t.

I will consider myself lucky if I live to see the day my hair is mostly silver. As the years go by, I dream of rejoicing my kids’ progress into adulthood, to have conversations about serious topics, to benefit from their advice and experience new inventions and hopefully visit more destinations from my travel bucket list.

I believe that after crossing into the fifties, when the bulk of parenting is complete, one can enjoy the freedom to focus on themselves, give one’s health a priority and pursue new interests.

I am eager to move to that stage so that I can work on projects that have been on the back burner and for little pleasures such as dropping the filter of niceness and telling a few folks exactly what I think of them. Like sweet Southern ladies, I could make the most caustic remarks with a smile and slyly add, “bless your heart” to soften the blow.

Truth be told, I am fully aware that there will be difficulties. My knees may be less forgiving after a day of hiking and my doctor may ban puri and mithai from my diet. However, peeling away the superficial changes around me, I am determined to face my fears and look for meaningful ways to value the last quarter of my life.

All the praise about looks that feed vanity in youth can make the acceptance of wrinkles and cellulite much harder. Not that I am speaking from personal experience, but it has been found that glamorous men and women struggle the most with signs of aging as their self-esteem dwindles when compliments taper down.

A favorite grandparent, your kind neighbor, a silver haired teacher may be senior citizens who are admired but age-related prejudice and attitude often comes in the way of offering the elderly the respect, worth, and opportunities they deserve.

Globally, people need to reevaluate their attitude towards the geriatric population especially because that segment is growing in most countries. According to the US Census data released in 2020, the 65-and-older population grew by over a third (34.2 percent or 13,787,044) during the past decade, and by 3.2 percent (1,688,924) from the period between 2018 to 2019.

Businesses need to pay attention to the changes in the customer base.

Scientists can aim to generate innovations targeting the needs of this oft forgotten demographic. And let’s make some noise as we celebrate National Senior Citizen Day every year.

It is my sincere belief that welcoming the golden years with open arms will enable us to thrive with our changing bodies and mind.

Instead of stigmatizing the stage of menopause, it should be openly discussed with the goal of gaining a better understanding. Similarly, dysfunctions experienced by men should not be treated as material for raucous jokes attacking masculinity. Experts in the field of gerontology agree that cultures and communities who respect their older members tend to have healthier seniors.

Our scriptures as well as history around the world offer exemplary role models of who guide us with their wisdom and leadership.

We have ample reason to change our attitudes towards the elderly for the betterment of society. And regardless of party affiliation Americans can seek comfort in knowing that their country can be run by, how shall I put it, well-aged Presidents.

Shyama Parui is a long time North Carolina resident and an ardent writer. You can reach her at: [email protected]