How companionship and an active social life can improve the lives of India’s elderly

Chawla and Chakraborty in Scroll.In:

You may wonder about the focus on the need for social connections as one grows older, in this book. After all, isn’t friendship usually associated with youth? Education management expert Ravi Acharya would say no to that. After spending his working years in Pune and Ahmedabad, among other places, Acharya moved to Bengaluru. He is lucky to have two of his closest friends live on the same street. Acharya says we don’t realise the importance of actually talking to our friends, in a world dominated by conversations on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media. “We friends make it a point to meet once a month,” says Acharya, “and avoid conversations over WhatsApp unless necessary. Such social connections and making an effort toward being in touch is important for active ageing.”

When we ask Chandrika Desai how she stays connected to people, she has a hearty laugh. “It’s my personality,” she says. Desai is a jovial 74-year-old who epitomises how important social engagement could be. But like she tells us, passively becoming part of a group is not the only way to do it. You need to be active at your end, too. Every morning, Desai sits with a list. She has a large network of family and friends, and each morning she calls different people. “I make an effort to reach out,” says Desai who lives on her own, leads her own life but is deeply connected to her two children who live overseas.

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