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Old Age Homes – A Necessary Evil!

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By: M Sami Bhat

Isolation is proving to be a reality that comes with old age. Ageing being inevitable, everyone goes through these stages, provided death does not come calling in the meantime. Thus, irrespective of our stature, all of us come to a stage where we need others.

Currently, around the globe, senior citizens are being deprived of their rights. They face acute problems on the psychological, financial and social fronts. There are thousands around us who are playing this penultimate role on the stage of the world. For some, the going is good but for many it is a saga of suffering. They do not find the supporting hands they need and do not get the love they yearn for. They miss the people who would make them smile. Some live in isolation even while living with children. Some want to pass their final days at home, but can’t.

Changing family value system, economic compulsions of the children, neglect and abuse has caused elders to fall through the net of family care. The elderly people who are alone face health problems, depression and loneliness. The rapid urbanization has overtaken the traditional value system of our people and shifted their socio-economic priorities. Sons and daughters and their children find no time for the senior citizens in their family. The elderly who have provided their services and support to the society feel unloved and neglected at this phase of their lives.
The concept of Old Age Home arises when the old aged persons in a family are not cared for. Many children argue that their financial conditions do not allow them to look after their old parents. These words bear no reason as parents did not throw them away when they might have faced financial constraints in bringing them up. The term “Old Age Homes” actually speaks volumes about our insensitivity to life and humanness.

With the advent of industrialization there has been a significant change in the family system in particular and social structure in general. Joint families disintegrated and small nuclear families emerged where the young couple finds no time to look after their old parents. In such families the position of the old has become a crucial factor. The old themselves find it difficult to adjust with the modern ways of living of their young children. In the cities where there is growth of individualism and with it the desire to be self- reliant, the clashes between generations distress the old. Many of the problems faced by the urban elderly do not exist in the villages. Therefore a good number of elderly from urban group have taken resource to old age homes

In the pursuit of our mercenary goals, we ignore those who have laid the foundations of our lives, those who have taught us to walk and talk, those who have endured great discomfort for our wellbeing, and those who have mortgaged their present for our better future. The elderly in return pin their hopes on us to be the sources of support and comfort in their old age. But things go diametrically the opposite way when the time comes. This leads to psychological problems which the ageing fail to cope with.

Based on a survey conducted by Dr Humaira Showkat (International Journal of Research in Sociology and Anthropology (IJRSA)), out of 150 respondents (all senior citizens) in Srinagar city, 45% voiced the need for Old Age Homes. The respondents, both males & females, were spread across the city & were from all income groups. The very percentage looks scary and one can understand what is going on within our society and what times are approaching!

The writer is M.Tech ECE & MBA, currently working in CEB Global (Delhi NCR).

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