According to Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India; 53 million females and 51 million males. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India suggests that the number of elderly persons is expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. Currently 71% of the elderly population resides in urban areas while 29% are in rural areas. With the changing times, children moves out to different cities or even different countries with the aim of gaining better living aspects leaving behind their parents for whom it is not possible to adjust with the lifestyle changes which migration brings . In some cases while the parents agree to move in with their children , in other cases it is observed that when parents age children starts to see them as a burden and a responsibility that they want to get rid off which lead them in abandoning their own parents.
Currently there are 728 old age homes in India, with the information available for 547 homes out of which 325 homes accommodates elderly people free of cost, while 95 others charges for the accommodations while nearly 110 other homes have both free as well as pay staying facility available . Kerala , the state which has the highest literary rate in India is also reported to have the highest number of old age homes i.e. 278.
India has always been a nation of traditions where a child since birth is taught to touch the feet of elders as a mark of respect. It is considered an insult to leave the parents at old age home, to not provide for them in their vulnerable age as many children consider taking care of their aging parents as a forced liability as their growing age weakens their physical ability. This blog will highlight some of the reasons why the number of elderly people in old age homes continuously rising.
The reasons for the rising numbers
The families in India few decades back were joint families with parents, grandparents, siblings their wives and children living together under a single roof in a small town or villages. Those were the times when urbanisation had not really hit the sub continent and the aging elders have does not have to worry about someone taking care of them.
- The migration which the children go through sometimes from a state to another or to another country, makes it difficult for the elders to adjust with their children’s new surroundings as it is very natural to adjust in an experience to which you are foreign almost your entire life. Even if they do adjust they tend to feel very lonely while the children go to work. As the urban system which consists of living in flats or even houses in the cities had made people isolated in their own world owing to their hectic schedules . In these cases , children feel that if their parents will get the company of their own age then they will feel better and will be able to lead a happy retirement.
- As the times progressed, opportunities increased children started moving away from their parents as the trend of nuclear families came in fashion. Also, the generation gap between the elderly and the young does not allow elders to accept some of their children’s choices like many still have objections to an independent working daughter in law. These issues creates rift in the family dynamics leaving no option other than to move the parents out of their houses. Since in India children never shy away from taking their parent’s savings which they had saved for their old age for their personal benefits and the middle class families can’t afford another place for the parents to live close by, parents ends up in the old age homes . Also, there are some horrific cases reported where children tend to abandon their parents by the excuse of sending them off to pilgrimage or to any other city leaving them stranded. The reason this occurs is because the younger generation refuse to adjust with the older ones by being cruel and mean to them for their limited physical capability. In such cases, the passer by then drop them to the old age homes.
- While many children move out of their parent’s house for job or education purposes leaving their parents alone, their security always remain their prime issue. Though many youngsters have surveillance cameras and advanced security systems installed in the house , still the rising number of crimes against the elderly where the houses with just elder people becomes a target for robbery even murder is worth worrying. In such cases children feel the environment of old age to be safe.
The conditions in old age homes
While many old age homes provide good accommodation and facilities many are reported to provide stale and inadequate amount of food, no medical attention even after taking money for the proper services by the children. Their are instances of cases of violence in the old age homes . Such one instance is a time, when an elderly was reported to be beaten by the management for complaining about the quantity and quality of food served.
The people in old age homes are not always happy as somewhere or the other they still miss their children who either comes on weekends and important occasions. While there is this other set of children for whom parents are a forced responsibility , who never show up after giving false hopes of coming every weekend. In the latter cases, it is the management of the homes which take care of the medical needs of the elders through donations. There are also cases when children do not even come after the death of their parents.
Everything in this world is a part of the vicious cycle of Karma with the proverb “As you sow so shall you reap” being true. When a child is born it is completely dependent on its parents for its needs. Similarly there reaches a time when the human body gives up to age making it difficult for the older people even to do their necessary works. In such cases they become dependent on their children who will have to learn to adjust to the maximum to cater their parent’s needs. Else, when their time would come they would also die in old age homes with their own blood having no care about it.
Also, government should work on increasing the number of old age homes in states and also upgrade the security making sure that the elders are safe in the homes.