Thursday, June 30, 2016


Ask young people what they think of old people. You can bet they will come up with a long list of adjectives, all negative.

"Cranky, senile, grouchy, grumpy, frail, smelly, nagging, long-winded, useless, stubborn, unproductive, dictatorial, burdensome, ..." You get the picture.

But how did old people get to be this way? Why do they always complain? Why do they insist they are always right, that everyone should listen to them? How did they become such poor company to be with?

We will all grow old one day. So let's try and understand why old people are the way they are. They may have valid reasons for their grouses. Maybe we can learn from them, and when the time comes, we can age gracefully, and with dignity, loved and respected by all.

Let's put ourselves in the shoes of an 80-year old man. He has limited funds and no source of steady income, so he complains about soaring prices. He recalls the old days when a cup of kopitiam coffee cost only 40 cents. Now it's RM1.60 at the mamak stall.

There was a time when he could travel and enjoy an active social life. These days he is mostly at home, unable to venture out alone because he no longer drives and there's no one free to take him out. His perennially busy adult children have little time for him.

Once upon a time he lived to eat. Now he eats to live. His diet is restricted to low-fat, no sugar and cholesterol-free foods. No more of his favorite hawker food, no more culinary indulgences, all because he has a host of health problems to deal with.

His old hobbies no longer interest him. He can't read because of poor vision. He has little interest in watching tv as the programs don't appeal to him. He can't explore the rich diversity of information on the internet as he is computer-illiterate, and refuses to learn.

As a young man, he was blessed with good health and vitality. Now the passage of time has reduced him to a frail shadow of his former self, with all the accompanying aches and pain of old age.

Few friends drop by to see him, as they are in the same boat as he is. So he sits in his arm-chair or lies in bed the whole day long with only his memories of the good old days to keep him company.

It is no wonder old people are bitter and grouchy. They have all the time in the world to gripe about everything under the sun, from GST and high prices to corrupt politicians and uncaring children.

What a horrible way to grow old! We can't stop growing old, but we can certainly choose how we want to grow old. It all boils down to attitude.

We can choose to grow old complaining about things from A to Z. Or we can choose to focus our attention on the things that make us happy, like our grandchildren, like being able to look back at happy times with nostalgia, and not compare them with the present.

There is little point in harping on things that can't be changed. We should learn to accept whatever unfortunate circumstances we are dealt with and make the best of the situation. Let's embrace our twilight years with joie de vivre and fill each day with love and gratitude, not bitterness or regret.

Now you know why SeniorsAloud loves to feature inspiring seniors on our Facebook. They are our role models to show us that we can live to 80, 90, even 100 and still enjoy life to the fullest. It's never too late to start laying the foundation of good health and developing a positive attitude to life.

(The above is an updated version of "Why Do Old People Love To Complain?" first posted on SeniorsAloud blog on 1 July 2012.)