Raj Dharampuriya is an old family friend of ours and I go to visit him at home most weeks. Raj never had children and sadly his wife passed away 4 years ago which is why I always try to make the time to go and see him. What blows me away about this man is that despite being the ripe old age of 81, he appears more sprightly each time I go to see him. Many of us worry about what we may be like in old age when our body is tired and worn out, but on the evidence of Raj Dharampuriya, those later years should be something which we all look forward to.
Teaching an Old Dog
For as long as I have known Raj Dharampuriya he has always had a keen mind and sought to learn about new things and new ways of working. This is something which Raj has carried into his old age with him and instead of being idle when he is in the house, he is usually trying to take on a new hobby or learn something new. This is a man who learned to play the guitar aged 72, bought his first smartphone at aged 76 and began studying for a modern languages degree at age 78. I always thought that his desire to learn new things was a result of how well he’d aged, but I actually believe now that he has aged so well because of his desire to learn new things.
It is not just the mind which Raj Dharampuriya exercises but also his body and each morning he does a rigorous stretching exercise and he also counts his steps each day to make sure that he is hitting his target of 13,000. Raj has always been an active person and whilst his body can’t do the things which it used to be able to do, he has constantly tweaked and changed his exercises so that he is still able to achieve something.
For a long while I would visit Raj under the notion that he didn’t have anyone else to talk to and I know just how damaging loneliness can be for old people. What i didn’t realize however was that Raj Dharampuriya has a far better social life than me and he is constantly seeking new things to do in order to meet people and spend time with friends. Raj is usually out 5 afternoons of the week, playing cards and chess, dancing and even going out for a few light ales on a Friday night. I really enjoy the chats that we have together because of this and he always has a story or two to tell about the people who he sees in the week.
It may sound simple but I think that Raj Dharampuriya has really cracked getting old gracefully, keep the mind and body active and avoid loneliness at all costs.
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