Growing Old Gracefully. ~ Jagdish Kohli

Via Jagdish Kohli, Ph.D.
on Aug 13, 2013
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Our complete life cycle includes old age as well as childhood, youth and maturity.

At the end of life, when we exhale the last breath, the life energy moves on to a new journey leaving the physical body on planet earth. As life moves from one phase to the next it brings a new set of challenges and opportunities.

Here we analyze the challenges of living a life of dignity and grace in the later years before leaving the world stage.

Getting old does not necessarily mean that we are automatically going to have poor health and that we will be confined to a wheel chair. A lot of elderly individuals actually enjoy their vigorous health because they try to live a healthy lifestyle despite their old age.

However, in some folks old age may bring a lack of concentration, forgetfulness, inability to speak, to hear, to see, etc. So the individual gets used to sitting in a chair being pensive, vegetating, and saying nothing.

Because of physical wear and tear of the body tissue, some old people get serious illnesses such as coronary heart problems, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and different levels of cognitive disorders. Dealing with these life situations offers many challenges for the patients as well as their caretakers.

And when one of the partners of an elderly couple passes away it creates a harder situation for the surviving person to adjust to handling day to day living.

Old Age Planning

Conscious planning is a prerequisite to achieve a high quality of daily living in later years of life. Youth and mature years is the best time to create a blueprint for the old age. Our thoughts, emotions and actions are the seeds of life sowed in early years.

These seeds create a big harvest in old age. The seeds of love and happiness bring forth a life full of grace and dignity. The seeds of anger, hate, jealousy, greed and attachment bring forth pain and suffering in old age. We should pay attention to these five aspects of life while we are still young and strong:

1. Creating a financial safety net for old age;

2. Developing a daily exercise habit and adjusting to a balanced diet based on body need;

3. Learning to relax in every life situation and allowing the natural flow of life energy;

4. Building meaningful relationships with family and friends; and

5. Enjoying every aspect of life without getting attached to it.

Caring for an elderly individual can be stressful and demanding at times. Gaining basic knowledge about what we can do, and staying as calm and relaxed as possible, we will be able to handle each and every situation. Thus a training program is required for all caretakers—including family, friends and professional people in different settings. Similar training is also needed for the elderly.

Responsibility of the Caretakers

Preserve Their Dignity. Do not sharply rebuke an older person, but be respectful and treat him/her as a father/mother role model.

Listen Carefully. Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.

Show Empathy. Be like-minded, showing fellow feeling and having brotherly affection. Be tenderly compassionate, humble in mind and do not pay back injury for injury, or revenge for revenge.

Include Them in Our Activities. Follow the course of hospitality. Include them in planning daily meals and other family discussions.

Responsibility of the Elderly

Be Flexible. Old people should be flexible in accepting appropriate meals based on their body health. Cooperation with the caretaker can create a harmonious living experience.

Show Respect. An elderly person must show due respect for the caretaker and offer gratitude and blessings for the service.

Be Creative. In old age there is plenty of time at hand. Creative use of time can keep the mind occupied. One can reflect on life, create satisfying group activities, and get involved with yoga, meditation, etc.

Society’s Responsibility

Collectively we are all responsible for the current quality-of-life for all the citizens of the world. Societal institutions have a major responsibility to improve the quality of human living experience on planet earth.

The number of old people needing care will be growing in the coming decades. By 2050, the number of people ages 65+ will total about 1.5 billion—that’s 16 percent of the global total. In 1950, it was only 5 percent.

The growth trajectory of old people will challenge the limitations of current social systems such as retirement financing, healthcare facilities, nursing homes and in home care. Transformation is badly needed in the current ways of doing business. Thinking minds of the world need to address this growing elderly care problem looming on the horizon.

Growing old with grace provides a beautiful living experience. Grace is a higher dimension of life and if invoked in young age stays with us all the way till the end. This heightened awareness allows young as well as old people to live a healthy and balanced life every day.

Public policy institutions all around the globe need to address the growing elderly care problem in a meaningful way. The design of more durable social systems will improve the quality of life for everyone.


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Assistant Ed: Ben Neal/Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Jagdish Kohli, Ph.D.

Jagdish Kohli holds a Ph.D. Degree in EE from IIT Roorkee, India. He worked as a Communication Scientist at Bell Labs., Bell Communication Research and AT&T for over 21 years. His research contributions have been published in a number of technical journals and magazines. He also presented his findings at a number of national and international conferences. He was invited to contribute a comprehensive article on “Medical Communications” for the Encyclopedia of Telecommunications. Jagdish also has held faculty positions at Panjab University, Chandigarh India, IIT Roorkee, India, New York University, NY and has been an invited speaker at Stanford University, California USA. For the past eight years Jagdish has addressed issues related to the quality of our daily living experience. He has published and presented insights on “Wealth & Quality of Life,” “ The Journey of Human Thought & Happiness,” “Many Facets of Human Mind,” “Our Dynamic Cellular Body” and “Nurturing The Self.”Jagdish and his wife Shashi live in San Francisco bay area and are members of SKY. They have two children and two grand children.


27 Responses to “Growing Old Gracefully. ~ Jagdish Kohli”

  1. Priadeep.S says:

    Great thought. Planning at younger age and act accordingly will solve most of the problems of old age. We should do our part and wait for grace rather than abusing now ask for grace later. Thanks for sharing Dr. Kohli.

  2. jagdish says:

    Thanks Priadeep for your observation. Grace is always a part of our true self. It can be realized at any age. By self-introspection we can invoke it in the moment.

  3. Yash Taneja says:

    In this jet age youth has no time and inclination to think of old age and hence no chance of any preparation. Our personal experience says that the compliance of responsibility on the part of elderly should not be expected otherwise that will solve half the problems of the caretaker.

  4. Kirit Kamdar says:

    Hi Jagdish,
    Enjoyed reading your article – a concise and useful list of recommendations for the life cycle.

  5. jagdish says:

    Dear Yash,
    Thank you for bringing out the problem of current way of living life by youth as well the elderly. Much of the humanity continues to live a life of unawareness. Just by paying some attention we can see the evolution of life leading to old age. We humans are made up of Mind, Body and Spirit. Balancing these three energies creates healthy living every day. Early education and meditation can bring in this awareness.

  6. jagdish says:

    Early awareness is the key to enjoy all phases of life. Thanks for reading the article.

  7. Hans Chaudhry says:

    This is a very nice article, suggestive and informative, useful for young and elderly. We need to implement theses thoughts into action for a harmonious life.

  8. jagdish says:

    Thank you, Dr. Chaudhry for a concise and thoughtful summary of the write-up. When we are young we never think of growing old unless we see our parents or grandparents regularly. This should be a topic of family discussion at the dinner table. Awareness of Totality of Life needs to be inculcated early on.

  9. Avinash Chitnis says:

    Thank you for a very sensible and comprehensive list of items to make old age a positive (or at least, a not too negative) experience for all of us — seniors as well as caregivers.

  10. jagdish says:

    Old is Gold! In old age there is plenty of time to reflect on the process of Life. Listening to elderly people can be very educational for the younger generation. Each generation contributes to the wellness of the next generation. WE just have to tune into the interconnected of Life.

    Thanks for your valuable comments.

  11. Purti Anand says:

    hi badepapa, read ur article..loved it…inspite of knowing about all these things sometimes we lose our temperament at certain things or with certain people..does that also affect our forthcoming life…

  12. jagdish says:

    Hello Purti,

    You have raised a very important point in our daily relationship. Many of us cannot keep our cool most of the time and our patience keeps growing thin. This causes a lot of turmoil in our life.

    Keeping cool is a great virtue. One can stay cool by practicing the use of sweet words in all communications with everyone. If we keep practicing this on a regular basis one day we will become calm. This is simple Mantra to create a harmonious life.

    Good Luck!

  13. Purti Anand says:

    thanx a ton..surely try to implement it..

  14. Hans Chaudhry says:

    Yes. It does affect our forthcoming life. Life is a continuous process until we master it. In other words, we shall have to be reborn again and again until nothing affects us and we realize out Spirit within us.

  15. jagdish says:

    When we are involved in care taking or being taken care we are in a very deep relationship. We constantly exchange energy between the parties. The quality of this energy exchange registers as positive impression or negative impression on the screen of our MIND. Hence our forthcoming life is definitely related with the accumulated impressions.

    By understanding the process of LIFE we can clean up these impressions daily and even moment by moment. No accumulation of impressions on the MIND creates a very beautiful Living Experience. Good thoughts, sweet words and positive actions lead to a Blissful LIFE.

    Thank for raising very important questions!

  16. Satya Kalra says:

    Great article. I fully agree, Getting old does not necessarily mean that we are automatically going to have poor health and that we will be confined to a wheel chair. lot of wisdom and tips. thanks for sharing with us. Love.

  17. jagdish says:

    The key is to understand the totality of life early on. This should be a part of our ongoing education – formal and informal.

    Thanks for your comments!

  18. Kamlesh Kamdar says:

    Dear Jagdish,
    Thank you for nice framework for managing old age. I agree one has to be prudent with planning such as financial, retirement, long term care as well as disability insurances while in middle age and do not wait till you need one.

    Secondly, we need to expect, body is temporary and soul is eternal. For soul, the body is a costume and it has to change when it gets old. Spiritual practices are extremely important in old age. Ultimate goal is to achieve Moksha and come of the cycle of life and death. Death is inevitable and should not be an item of anxiety. Rather, be celebrated.

    Your last two points:
    •4. Building meaningful relationships with family and friends; and: This is important effort to invest while young. In old age, this becomes a litmus test, always continue to invest in this area.
    •5. Enjoying every aspect of life without getting attached to it.: Simply thank God to give a new day to invest, enjoy, and cherish. I start my day prayer and end my day with prayer.

    Thank you for an excellent paper.


  19. jagdish says:

    Thank you Kamlesh for a thorough reading and making some important points.

    Most of us are living a partial life having almost no awareness of our eternal spirit. This knowledge is not provided as a part of our growing up. This has to change to raise the level of consciousness for people living on the planet today.

    In young age we should understand the process of life from beginning to end. The old age can become glorious experience.

  20. Ashok Yog says:

    Excellent compilation and thoughts on the subject. Every action-'karma'' mental and physical is bound to have its effect. How and why may not always be very visible or clear? It is true for negative feelings, emotions and actions which lead us in to miseries. To get rid of these, training of once mind is unavoidable. Right kind of conduct (shila) and practice of meditation (Samadhi and gyan) are required to get rid of our miseries.
    Old age has its own merits in addition to the fact that one has to live long enough to become old completing the whole cycle of life in itself is a matter of pride and contentment. One can be grateful and thankful to all all those who contributed in achieving this. It also allows time for purifying our minds and set example for young ones. "Art of dying" seems to be hidden in the" Art of living".
    Keep it up Dr. Kohli.

  21. jagdish says:

    Offering GRATITUDE to all human-beings and material objects during the course of daily living leads to a BLISSFUL living experience.

    This alone is enough for liberating us from the miseries of LIFE.

    Thank you so much for offering important tips for a peaceful living.

  22. Kamlesh says:

    Thank you Jagdish!
    I understand lack of awareness for the cause. It is never too late and one catch rapidly, if there is strong desire to learn. One needs to identify areas such as Ego, Attachments, Greed, on one side and eternal spirit, meditation, soul, consciousness, Love on other side and start developing understanding of Soul.
    Thank you

  23. Nina gupta says:

    Very nicely written….planning,care taking ,responsibility of elders n society.
    My father in law is a perfect example with all these qualities. He is 88 years aging very gracefully doing all his things himself.
    He has Very positive attitude,eating healthy and excercising.,
    Discipline in life is key to happy mind n good health. My mantra of life is to be compassionate,meditate,eat well,have positive attitude towards life.treat others the way you want to be treated by them.
    Thanks! There is lot to learn from your article.we will certainly follow all you have said.

  24. Nina gupta says:

    Very nicely written….planning,care taking ,responsibility of elders n society.
    My father in law is a perfect example with all these qualities. He is 88 years aging very gracefully doing all his things himself.
    He has Very positive attitude,eating healthy and excercising.,
    Discipline in life is key to happy mind n good health. My mantra of life is to be compassionate,meditate,eat well,have positive attitude towards life.treat others the way you want to be treated by them.
    Thanks! There is lot to learn from your article.we will certainly follow all you have said.

  25. jagdish says:

    Thank you Nina for sharing your personal experience of healthy and happy living in old age. This definitely does not happen in one day. Habits formed earlier last for a life time.

    Simple food, positive thoughts and daily exercise creates a beautiful life.

  26. mikerana says:

    Very thoughtfully written article. In today's times old people have to adjust to multiple generations, due to increased life span. The mindsets of the new generations are drastically different. The binding factor, of religion, is now lacking… so what brings all of them together ?

    The time they can spend together as a family. Something that is rare in modern families

  27. jagdish says:

    Thank you Dr. Rana for pin-pointing the attitude of our current generation and the expectations of the elderly. A lot of young folks are getting away from religious beliefs.

    The only binding factor that unites us all is the energy of AWARENESS.

    In early years of growing up we create toxic habits in Unawareness. Meditation needs to be practiced early on to create positive perception of life. This takes care the whole of life.