India’s rapid economic growth has led to great prosperity. Much of this was possible because of the hard work and sacrifices of a retiring generation. They had to work hard and have little time for themselves. Children sent to faraway places in India and overseas in pursuit of their dreams. The paradox is that a digital world with fewer connections has made it harder for families and communities to connect. A generation of retirees now faces the challenge of dealing with loneliness in a fast-paced world. The time-tested family systems are no longer working.

Retirement can cause a drastic change in an established routine, which can be confusing and overwhelming. Insecurity increases as a result of a decrease in social connections and interactions with peers. Retirement is also associated with dependence, which can lead to a decrease in self-confidence and self worth for the retiree. Retirement used to mean being able to spend quality time with your family and enjoy the rest of your life. However, these days retirements are often accompanied by loneliness as most of your children move away from the city. These huge changes can be very stressful and often cause anxiety and depression. This silently growing problem is becoming more prominent in today’s fast-paced society. It is often not talked about.

The parents’ anxiety and stress levels have only increased due to the lack of physical contact because of high travel costs. They can see their future without support but they are reluctant to share it because of various constraints. The stress on the mental health is further increased by conflicting needs to see their children succeed as well as physical proximity. The empty house syndrome will only get worse with increasing life expectancy and greater settling down for the next generation outside of their home. We must address the issue of mental health and social support in this country.

WHO estimates that more than 20% of older adults over 60 suffer from mental or neurological disorders. Elderly are vulnerable due to declining functional and physical abilities, social isolation, and decreased support from their families and society. Depression and dementia are two of the most common mental health problems. Loneliness can be a significant factor in the development of these conditions. People experience social changes that cause them to feel frustrated and lose their friends and family. People with dementia may have difficulty remembering things such as keys and how to return to a familiar place. Even routine activities can become more difficult. Sometimes, dementia patients can become more aggressive and agitated if they don’t know what is happening around them.

A person’s unwillingness to acknowledge that a problem exists is often the biggest obstacle in diagnosing them. This can be due to societal pressure, financial constraints, or lack of knowledge about mental health. Mental health problems among older adults are often overlooked or neglected due to a lack in knowledge. Elderly people are at high risk and it is crucial to monitor their mental health.

One way to mitigate the problem is to increase communication with family members and raise awareness about mental health issues. The elders and their families need to be open and willing to discuss the subject and admit that there is a mental illness in the family. It is important to seek medical attention and not associate medical care with social stigma. To create a happier environment, the focus should be on improving one’s emotional, physical, and social well-being. The adults in the family must encourage their parents and elders, as well as their children, to get involved with friends, neighbors, and relatives. Reading, gardening, cooking, or other devotional activities can keep their minds active and sharp, which will help reduce the likelihood of developing any mental health issues.

By Manali