The Psychology of Growing Old: A Personal Experience for both Young and Old By Basorun Seinde Arogbofa, OFR, PEN – A Review

By Dr. Olukayode Abraham Ajulo, OON, FCIArb.uk.

0:1 Appreciation/Introduction

It is imperative for me to start by expressing my profound appreciation and admiration for the author, Baba Basorun Seinde Arogbofa, OFR, PEN, who, at 85, found the time and strength to craft this diamond of a book as a worthy legacy to people across generations.

Not a fiction but a factual compendium fertilized by personal experiences that shine through its 166 pages like diamond, the author, in every chapter, proves that old age and, indeed, ageing is not about rickety bones, disappearing muscles and sunken eyes, but also the summation of how an individual spent his adolescence, youth and adulthood.

This fact is attested to by another living legend of our time, Baba, Chief (Dr.) Reuben Famuyide Fasoranti, OFR, who, in his beautiful piece on pages vi-viii, entitled: A Centenarian on the Marble, concurs that: “I see the book as a vade mecum (always be with me) for all grades of life-young and old. It is not tied to only old age; it argues however that what we become in old age is largely a reflection or a continuation of what we started as young people. The seeds of old age, according to him, are sown during our younger days.”

0:2 The Review:

Aptly titled: The Philosophy of Growing Old-A Personal Experience for both Young and Old,the book, published by John Archers (Publishers) Limited, Ibadan, richly recommends itself as a necessary companion for all ages, beautifullytaking off in Chapters 1 and 2 with the definition of old age and its onset.

The author, in subsequent chapters, devotes copious pages to comprehensive examination of the process of growing old, as well as the fears and myths that drive most people, including young people, to scary limits in their dread of ageing.
As the author explicitly discusses in Chapters 7 and 8, the fears include sliding from vibrancy to redundancy, demure disposition to most issues of life, fear of failing health (pages 90-103), cognitive decline, dwindling finance and associated problems (pages 81-89), shrinking population of friends and acquaintances, goals, responsibilities, and societal impacts often associated with ageing.

But Baba, in this great book, does not leave the reader without hope. He discusses extensively how people can find and sustain happiness at old age (Chapter 6). In 13 pages in Chapter 9, the author also proffers ways people can develop the courage to accept and deal with old age.

He also explores the legacies people can bequeath to family and humanity, and the fulfillment old people must seek before their inevitable encounter with death. But he submits that old age and ageing need not be all gloom and doom, emphasizing, however, that all depends on how the individual laid his bed in his/her youthful and adult years.

As in everything, the author underscores the significance of positive attitude, discipline, adaptation, meaningful lifestyle, effective time management, socializing, worship, showing love, and more love, among others, as sine qua non(necessary condition) for enjoying the twilight of age.

On page 120, the author highlights the importance of working to bequeath worthy legacies noting that, “…as an elder in the family you must strive to leave something worthwhile…..It could be a good name, which, people say, is better than silver or gold, a good name that can open doors for your relations, and not close doors against them…”

On page 123, Baba Basorun Arogbofa succinctly delves into various sectors of the society and lists the necessary virtues or legacies that could be left behind.

The author reflects on his own journey through life and shares the principles and steps he embraced to navigate the challenges of aging. The book encourages readers to embrace these principles and incorporate them into their own lives, as they shape personal growth and determine how well the individual copes with every stage of aging.

The author drives the point home on Page 102, citing one touching event that occurred when he author was 77, and he had to be operated on.“Just before the operation started,” he reminisces, “I took time off from them, looked up to God, my Creator for a communion, and went into a reverie. My action was infectious and everybody appeared silent for a short time I was in communication.”

The import of the above event, a core principle in navigating through life is: God is the author and the finisher of our faith. This Biblical principle, which the author’s father imbibed and stoutly believed in, pops up in the second paragraph of the book’s prologue of the book (page xv) wherein the author reveals how he envisaged the values passed on to him and his siblings, and soon naturally lived by them as he once hoped. The principle, he notes, is essential and will serve every ma/woman well throughout life-as toddler, adolescent, young adult, adult, middle age, old age and growing old.

One notable aspect of the book is its well-structured chapters, although I personally feel that the question of “when” should have been addressed before discussing “what is in old age.” Nevertheless, the author’s thought process is excellently presented in each chapter, with a particular focus on five cardinal values associated with old age.

These cardinal values include honor and respect, outstanding wisdom, discipline, high value system, accord, as well as proper care and kindness. The book emphasizes the importance of these values in old age and how they are passed on from generation to generation.

03: Conclusion:

As already established, Baba Arogbofa’s book,The Psychology of Growing Old: A Personal Experience for both Young and Old, is a valuable read that provides real-life experiences and serves as a guide to sustainable living and financial security. The book highlights the bright sides of old age and underscore the avoidable challenges of growing old. Though the advice comes so early in the book, Chapter 3 to be precise, it gives a sterling conclusion and golden advice on the subject matter, when he quotes the saying that “as one grows older the sky gets darker slowly’, and counsels that, “every wise person must prepare for this critical stage of life, so as to meet its challenges. As in the philosophy of the scouts, the wise must always be prepared, and the preparation must begin by the age of 40, so as not to belong to the fabled fool at forty who becomes a fool for life.”

And to truly enjoy old age, the author recommends the timeless ideal of devoting time to inspiring things in the environment, things that promote happiness and increase prosocial emotions (like generosity and kindness), accepting death as inevitable and developing the right attitude towards that stark reality (Chapter 11), worship God and love all that is good and noble.

Overall, the book, The Psychology of Growing Old: A Personal Experience for both Young and Old, is a great intellectual work brimming with wisdom. It is well researched, spiced with true life anecdotes, and written in elegant prose. The writing is as compelling as the message. The book recommends itself as a necessary companion for all men and women that desire happy old age regardless of the challenges; it is a precious resource for researchers on quality and purposeful living, geriatrics and gerontology.

The book is also an excellent gift to those of us in leadership positions as the issues espoused by the author comes with the cryptic message that the state must pay more to the welfare of the elderly. Though some states are doing excellently well in making ageing easy for the senior citizens, more states need to execute policies that improve the living conditions of the elderly in the areas of geriatric care, medications for the aged, transportation system that make commuting for the seniors enjoyable, as well as monthly allowances necessary to meet their most basic needs.

In my years of service in the temple of justice, I have been an advocate of better life for the vulnerable. And senior citizens, people who have given the best parts of their lives in dedicated service to Fatherland, have become not only vulnerable but are fast becoming endangered species of homo sapiens; suffering crippling deprivations, ill-health and poverty.

Therefore, time is NOW for us to show love to the seniors by executing policies and programmes that make old age not to look like a curse or plague. And on this note, let me use this opportunity to acknowledge the Government of Ondo State for their consideration and inclusion of the elderly and physically challenged persons, as at today, the state has taken care of 12337 elderly from the Social Registry across the 18 Local Governments in Ondo State, I will however and nevertheless further ask that much more should be done by our governments, corporate entities and spirited individuals.

I humbly and most respectfully urge all Your Excellencies here present to please, give a deep thought to this humble hint. Gbogbo wa ni a maa dagba, ti a si maa darugbo ni agbara Edumare. (We shall all grow old by the power of the Almighty).

In closing, and like I have said unequivocally, The Psychology of Growing Old: A Personal Experience for both Young and Old, by Baba, Basorun Seinde Arogbofa, is a great literary work by all standards. (I think Baba deserves a loud ovation). However, since there is nothing perfect under the sun, even the best of men, I would encourage the editors to be a little bit more thorough in their editing to avoid the minor typographical and punctuation errors observed in a few instances. I offer this advice because I am convinced this gem of a book will be a best-seller and it would compel reprinting over and again.

The author’s use of deep Yoruba proverbs is excellent, especially with the accompanying transliterations. This should make readers from other cultural backgrounds comfortable and very much at home in absorbing and interpreting the message. A little improvement could be useful. For instance, it would have been more beneficial to include references to other regions and cultures to enhance understanding and inclusivity. Even, without this, the book is still worth timeless offering to all those who seek knowledge.

Nobody must leave this hall without grabbing copies for self, family and friends.

Dated this 23rd day of March, 2024

Dr. Olukayode Abraham Ajulo, OON, SAN
Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria

A Review By Dr Olukayode Abraham Ajulo, OON, SAN


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