At age 69, two things I find most challenging about aging are the issues of financial needs and socializing. Technology is good for cheap communication, yet I cannot catch up with it. I don’t use Facebook but I started using WhatsApp; I am forced to use it in order to call friends and family in India for free. Additionally, I use social media once every couple of days on my cell phone to see PriyaLiving group messages, but learning to use these social media apps is very hard. If I want to make a group chat to send messages, I don’t even know how to do that! My lack of understanding makes me uncomfortable with technology and stuck in certain places. However, I have gradually learned three things as I’ve faced challenges like these. Life is not permanent, material things aren’t as important as love, and that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.
When I was younger, I wish I knew about the pains I would develop and how to avoid them. I wish I exercised more, ate correctly, as well as slept more. I also wish I did not have to undergo surgery and suffer from the problems of aging. I would be much happier if I had made the correct decisions correlated to my health. On the topic of healthcare, it is convenient but it doesn’t provide you enough time to heal emotionally. This is the lacking component of the health system. At least if the doctors talked to you, it would be much better for patients like me who fear the worst. Instead, they just cure the disease and leave you unsure what will happen next. I want more empathy in my medicine! I had always dreamed of being a doctor when I was young, but I could not due to the societal standards during that time. It was a big dream of mine because, in India, women did not use to go that high in terms of studies. However, I was still able to have a life I enjoyed as I worked as a bank teller in my last job. As of now, I like cooking, helping others, and doing volunteer work.
After moving to PriyaLiving, I have never felt alone unless I really want to. Aside from these occasions, I love life in PriyaLiving! It is very good! Everybody is friendly and everybody understands everything. We are all on the same boat in terms of age and mentality. Every week, I see new people when I volunteer; I see them when a new senior moves into PriyaLiving, or when visitors come by! Especially to the younger visitors that come by, one message I would give to them is to always connect with elders and relatives! We don’t have all the time in the world, which is why I believe every day is special in some way, shape, or form. But while we are still here, we appreciate those that are there for us and hope they will make a positive impact on our community!
SSU Perspective: Similar to other seniors, Meena is that someone we at SSU sympathize with as technology is harder for the older generation to acquire a habit for. Especially since seniors like Meena lack income, we understand she faces difficulties that most people in Cupertino cannot relate to. Additionally, the health problems that all seniors endure is always challenging since they often must undergo surgeries and take medication every day. Though Meena must maneuver around these difficulties, she still is an extremely optimistic person who understands how to adjust to these life obstacles and be grateful to those who support her journey through life.
We empathize with Meena when says she was unable to achieve her dream of being a doctor as the ability of women to work in India, her birth country, or the female labor force participation has drastically fallen from 36% to 24% from 2005-2016 (Bloomberg). Additionally, Indian women faced countless disadvantages in the labor market such as the societal belief in women’s low-skill cap and the low pay they earned over the span of a day (Bloomberg). Luckily, Meena was fortunate enough to have a job as a bank teller and managed to have a relatively successful life. We applaud her for still helping others in her community today and enjoying life and being passionate about her hobbies.
Meena’s life at PriyaLiving is exactly what we believe senior centers should be about. The friendly atmosphere and the mutual understanding of each other’s life problems is an optimal environment for anyone who needs a supportive community. SSU is happy to hear that Meena is socializing with other seniors and encourages the building of bridges between the senior and youths of Cupertino. Meena’s life was built on hardship and struggles, yet she is making the most of it. We echo Meena’s positive message and hope others will do the same!