Senior Citizens: It is never too late to develop a hobby

Backdrop:

Hobby is often defined as an activity or pastime taken up by an individual for pleasure and enjoyment. Having a hobby is always desirable. First, it acts as a stress buster. Second, it keeps a person busy for some time during the day and therefore, keeps away routine worries. Third, since hobby is often taken up for enjoyment, it creates happy hormones and the individual is at peace. It has, therefore, been observed that a person with a hobby is often better placed to face shocks and challenges of life. Its role in a pandemic like the current one is very important as the “solitude syndrome” to some extent can be reduced through intervention of a good and useful hobby.

There are couple of myths about inculcation of hobbies. There is a myth that hobbies are more important in childhood or college days so as to enable young people to spend their leisure time more fruitfully. Reality is that hobbies are important for people of all ages. Rather hobbies are crucial at old age as problems of anxiety are more with elderly people. There is another myth that younger people are in a position to practise hobbies easily as their mental faculties for learning are much better. Reality is that age is no bar for learning new things if the learner has commitment.

This article is focusing on some real life stories of elderly people who developed some hobbies after they retied or achieved age of 60 years. They all are members of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). Objective is to point out some common denominators.

Shashi Rastogi: A retied school teacher, she developed hobby of preparing greeting cards after retirement. This was prompted when a senior group of people decided to celebrate 50th wedding anniversary of an old couple. Various members were given different responsibilities. Shashi Rastogi was given responsibility of writing a few lines in appreciation of the couple. Markets were closed and it was not possible to procure greeting cards. She then decided a unique idea of pasting 50 tiny roses on a thick paper and made a ready-made greeting card. It was highly appreciated by all including the elderly couple and that prompted her to take up hobby of preparing greeting cards and there was no stopping after that.

Krishnaveni Y: A retired banker, she was involved in many activities but she wanted to pursue some specific hobby for the purpose of enjoyment. She had a few cameras and photography was an area of interest; she decided to explore more of photography and that was the beginning of her of journey of photography as a hobby. Later she shifted to mobile photography and then to ancillary activities like creating collages / videos of photos. Thus, started her journey of hobby in photography as a source of enjoyment through capturing happy moments of life and nature.

Samatha Sengupta: She was interested in acting from childhood. She also undertook some acting attempts during youth and work life. However, real impetus came after retirement from banking services and more particularly after formation of MRLF of which she is a founding member. She took up acting / directing as a hobby. She was phenomenally successful in her attempts. The lockdown also prompted her into launching the novel concept of virtual skits. She has completed writing, directing and acting in a number of skits on varied subjects and her target is to complete 20 skits. Till date, she has completed 17 skits.

Anand Saxena: He was interested in singing from youth but could not pursue the hobby because of pre-occupation with studies. Real impetus came after retirement from government services and more particularly after he became member of MRLF. He started singing in the group in monthly musical programs; encouragement received from other members have encouraged him and he has been pursuing the hobby more vigorously and enjoying the same.

Chandra Subramanian: Midlife health scare like cancer was instrumental in her taking up a hobby. She was always interested in creativity and moved to full-fledged hobby of writing. She developed into an author and wrote several articles and three books. The journey continues.

Lakshmi Ramani: As a child brought up in Mylapore in Chennai, she always nourished a desire to learn Bharatanatyam. But she never got chance to go into dance owing to discouragement from parents as a result of prevailing conservative outlook. Then started busy schedule of life and desire remained latent. After retirement as a school teacher, she revived the old spirit and started learning Bharatanatyam from a Guru and continues putting up her performances in YouTube.

Analysis and Conclusion:

There was a common denominator in all the above cases: a desire to pursue a hobby from childhood. Because of busy schedule of life, there was not much of an opportunity to pursue the same. Relative easiness of retired life and presence of an enabling environment provided by a community like MRLF rekindled the desire and motivated the individual to pursue the hobby. Or sometimes some incident prompted a hobby. Underlying principle is very simple: one should have a desire, passion and commitment. It is never too late to start a hobby!!!

Dr A K Sen Gupta is Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). He may be contacted at aksengupta51@gmail.com or 9821128103.

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