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Aged Doesn't Mean Caged

Growing older is often seen as a phase of life where limitations begin to overshadow opportunities.
12:00 AM Apr 28, 2024 IST | DR. ZUBAIR SALEEM
aged doesn t mean caged

Many senior patients often express sentiments like, "old age itself is a disease, and we're merely unwanted, counting our days to depart." Such a mindset is not only negative but also detrimental to their overall well-being. While acknowledging aging is natural, believing oneself to be a burden and incapable is harmful. Though easier said than done, stimulating a positive outlook can empower seniors to overcome obstacles with willpower and resilience.


Growing older is often seen as a phase of life where limitations begin to overshadow opportunities. However, the idea that the elderly are 'caged' by their age is not just misleading; it undermines the active, fulfilling lives many older adults lead. My aim is to break down the myth that to be 'old aged' is to be 'old caged,' highlighting the vibrant, active lifestyles that many seniors enjoy and advocating for a broader understanding of what it means to grow older.


Aged Does Not Mean Caged


First, it’s important to clarify what we mean by 'old aged' and 'old caged.' 'Old aged' simply refers to those who have reached a particular chronological milestone, typically classified as senior citizens or the elderly, usually around the age of 60 and older. On the other hand, 'old caged' suggests a state of being confined, limited, or restrained—a state that doesn’t necessarily follow from being old aged.


Many people assume that reaching old age inherently means a decrease in activity and engagement. This stereotype couldn't be more wrong. Today's elderly are breaking the mold, proving that the golden years can be just as rewarding and active as any other period of life.


Living Not Just Existing


The modern elderly are taking their well-being into their own hands. They travel, enroll in college courses, volunteer in their communities, and even start new businesses. Their active involvement contributes significantly to their mental and physical health, helping them to live fuller, more satisfying lives.


For example, consider a group of retirees who organize weekly outings. Not only do they keep fit, but they also maintain an active social life, which is crucial for mental health. Similarly, many seniors are now familiar faces in communities, social work setups and different social gatherings where they lead classes, share their life experiences, and continue to learn new skills.

Technological Empowerment

Technology, too, plays a crucial role in ensuring that the elderly are not 'caged' by their age. The use of smartphones, computers, and the internet helps them stay connected with friends and family, follow interests and hobbies, and manage their health and finances independently. For instance, a 70-year-old may use a fitness app to track daily walks, or participate in video calls with family, all of which reinforce a sense of autonomy and engagement with the wider world.

Cultural and Community Engagement

Cultural engagement is another area where the elderly shine. Many take part in local mohalla committees, voluntary groups and organise small get togethers, which keeps them vibrantly connected to contemporary life. Community engagement through volunteering also allows them to contribute valuable life experiences that benefit society while enriching their own lives.

Overcoming Physical Limitations

It’s true that ageing can come with physical constraints; however, these do not have to lead to 'caging.' With modern healthcare, many of the physical challenges associated with aging can be managed. Mobility aids, tailored fitness programs, and medical care enable seniors to maintain independence and mobility. Adaptive devices in the home can make daily activities easier, supporting seniors to live on their own terms. Using hearing aids, spectacles dentures and assistive devices for walking helps them live an independent life.

Positive Thinking

It's important for older people to believe in themselves and their abilities. Even if they face some challenges because of their age, having a positive attitude can help them overcome obstacles and enjoy life. Instead of thinking about what they can't do, they should focus on what they can do. By staying positive, older adults can discover new things and continue to have meaningful experiences.

Respect and Support from Youngers

Younger people need to show respect and appreciation for their elders. Older adults should never feel like they are a burden. Instead, they should be treated with kindness and honor for the knowledge and life lessons they offer. Younger generations should encourage and cheer on their elders, reminding them of their importance and the positive impact they have. When we create a culture of respect and support between generations, everyone feels valued and included.

Rethink Ageing

It’s time to shift the narrative from aging being a limiting factor to one of continued opportunity for growth and engagement. Society benefits immensely when it supports the elderly in maintaining their independence and treats them as valuable, active participants rather than passive spectators.

So the concept of being 'old aged' is not synonymous with being 'old caged.' The elderly today are vibrant, active contributors to society who accept life’s possibilities. By rearing an environment that encourages such engagement and recognises the potential of every individual, regardless of age, we can help ensure that the years people look forward to in retirement are filled with life, not limitations. I hope to inspire both young and old to change their perceptions of what it means to be elderly and to recognise the incredible capacity for living that exists at every age.

Dr Zubair Saleem is a Senior Citizens’ Specialist and Ageing Expert