Can we be old and happy at the same time? Old age and its social implications was the topic discussed this week in the Peace Weekly column on happiness. The columnist reminds us that we are entering a time in history when reaching the age of hundred will not be all that unusual.
In our passage through life, the
decade of the twenties usually is spent by continuing study for the
fortunate few, and for most others, work; in our thirties, marriage, and
extending into the fifties raising a family. At sixty, most plans have
been completed. But, the columnist asks how many have a plan for the
next 40 years? For our old age? It's important to think of these
remaining years, he says, and make them profitable ones.
a plan for these remaining years, loneliness is bound to be a problem
for many. We know only too well from the Korean experience that many
find life unbearable and have no desire to keep living.
later years should be years of blessing. A long life is an unexpected
gift. These final years should be appreciated and enjoyed, but for
many it's all about loss. Yes, it is true that with age, much sadness
comes, and much is lost: the death of friends, relatives, and at times
even children. There are also family problems to contend with, as well
as financial and health problems, but with the proper attitude these can
the last years, it is important to have friends with which to share our
losses. Furthermore, we have a need to continue to study, which is
encouraged by the Church by providing parish educational programs for
the aged. The columnist recommends these programs to all the elderly.
close to the children means there will often be conflicts. Parents
often see the desires they had for the children crushed, but rather than
accepting the sadness this brings, the columnist suggests that parents
see themselves in their children's shoes, to better appreciate the
challenges they have to face in a much more competitive society than
existed when they were growing up. The parents and the children both tend to experience different realities: raising their children was the primary interest
of the parents; preparing for the eventual death of their parents often becomes the
primary concern of the children. These divergent viewpoints only brings
sadness to both. Instead of expectations directed to the children the trust in the spouse would be the wiser course of action.
the States, the house parents live in constitutes about 30 percent of
their possessions; 70 percent is in investments. In Korea, the house is
90 percent. The columnist ends by stating that when aging parents give
their children their inheritance before they die, they lose three
things: their children, their independence, and their savings. It is better to use that money, he says, to enjoy their lives together.