The world observed Senior Citizen’s Day the day before yesterday. A review of the pleasures and pains attached to a senior citizen may perhaps not go amiss.

First and foremost, you tend to procrastinate things – not today; tomorrow definitely.  Precisely why what I should have penned this write-up on the occasion of Senior Citizen’s Day, I am doing it two days later. Anyway, the consolation is, it’s better to be late than never.

On the brighter side, when someone says, “after you, sir”, in a pharmacy, metro rail, department store or in front of an elevator as you wait for your turn, you feel elated.

Aunty (read Madam) Sitaraman, our Finance Minister, has kindly exempted income up to Rs 5 lakhs from tax for the super senior citizens. Specifically from this viewpoint, I feel happy to belong to this category.

When attending religious or social functions, “only senior citizens in the first batch, please,” announce the organizers giving us a preference to the dining hall. On the flip side, while booking for a railway reservation the chart might show ‘lower berths available’, but when you remit payment and click the button victoriously, you end up getting a middle or upper berth. And onboard, not always you succeed in persuading the fellow lower-berth passengers to surrender theirs for you.

Wear and tear is the name of the game. Every part of your body starts disowning you, and no agency is willing to insure your body – like they decline to renew AMC for a refrigerator or air conditioner after a specified period saying, ‘it has outlived its useful life, sir’.

Body pain, indigestion, knee pain, acidity, shoulder pain, too many visits to the restroom at night, are all sure to fall into the deaf ears of your family physician. Expect his stock reply: ‘Age-related… Any other problem, sir?” as though he is very keen to solve it. Visiting a physician is more a ritual than a problem-solving venture.

In sharp contrast, you get unsolicited advice from many well-meaning visitors if you happen to be unwell. Recently when I had knee pain, I had a stream of visitors home. Quite welcome, I enjoy a chat with them, but not when they start advising me on medication. “I say, there’s one dark grey Ayurvedic tablet that you get from any Ayurvedic shop. You take it for a week, and you will be relieved completely.” To my understanding, all Ayurvedic tablets look grey.

Another visitor had this to say. “I just completed an online course on a traditional system of medicine. I will tie grains on certain joints, and your pain will disappear sooner than you think. “No thanks, I think I will await the outcome of the modern medicine I am taking,” I wriggled out.

Yet another said he would message me the name of a herbal decoction that a Sadhuji Maharaj from the Himalayas prepares. He lists the names of his friends and relatives who had benefited from it. It is very effective for all kinds of pain, he asserts.

One of the popular publications of WHO was, “A Guide to Good Prescribing Practice”. If my memory serves me right, it dealt with five male/female patients of different age groups having the same symptom, but how in each case the reasons differed, and how different medications were needed –  and not one-kind-of-pain, one medicine.

That said, the best advice came from my friend, a retired, but still visiting Professor at IIM Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. He suggested when in pain, do visit a Hospital. I wondered whether he was reinventing the wheel because that is what we do. No, he was a step ahead. “That is where you come across people who have more acute and serious problems than you have, which makes you feel, “Thank God, I am better off.” Yes, count your blessings would seem the best answer.

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Sundaram Venkatesh

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