Scattered families find it difficult to take the onus of taking care of their elderly. Consequently, the senior members of the family are shunted into old age homes.
Though these centres take care of the basic needs and offer medical care, they do not measure up to fulfilling the emotional quotient of its members.
The elderly end up feeling used and abandoned while the young are either reckless or feel guilty about their decisions.
It is a little unsettling to notice that we as a society have started considering the elderly as a burden of sorts on society. It is true that the aged are shortchanged in physical strength and are probably dependent on their young family economically and otherwise. They can be a source of concern and solemn responsibility at times.
Yet, one cannot wish them away or discount their contributions while they were up to it. Their experiences can prove to be a torch bearer of sorts to many a problem that boggles the coming generations.
A story from Katha
Ratnakara reinforces this point ever so well. There once lived a old and wise king called Mahasena. When he died, his very young handsome and arrogant son called Narasena took over as the ruler.
The new king was very particular about doing away with the old order. For starters, he dismissed all the old and senior ministers in his cabinet. The disappointed and disgusted men left Sundarapura for good.
He established a new and young order and tried to modernise every feasible aspect of his kingdom.
The neighbouring kings who became aware of the latest development in Sundarapura were all set to lay siege to the kingdom, when the king was busy renovating.
They even charted out a plan of attack. At that point of time, one old and wise
minister in their camp said that Sundarapura should be considered invincible, even if one of the ministers in the erstwhile cabinet had stayed back in the kingdom.
Accordingly, the enemy kings devised a puzzle which could be solved by only an evolved and experienced brain and sent it to Narasena. The king and his cabinet were befuddled.
At that time, the queen mother counselled Narasena to put his ego aside and approach one of the former ministers to salvage them from the conundrum. Narasena did as he was bid and the riddle was resolved.
The moment the enemy kings heard about it, they quietly withdrew their forces.
It was only then that Narasena understood the value of age and experience which distilled into wisdom.