Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Old Age Homes - an Unpalatable Option?

Why, indeed? There are umpteen examples all around us of gross neglect and sheer indifference. The newspapers are full of shabby treatment meted out to old parents. It tugs at my heartstrings, and I wonder what the world is coming to? Yet, what do we do about it? Do we at any point of time feel the need to take out time from our busy schedule to even help some aged person cross the road? No, our life is in the fast lane, and we have no time for the slowness associated with the old. But we do owe them some respect, some dignity. Why don’t we ever think of going over to the house of the elderly couple living across the road and just greet them with a cheery ‘hi!’? Sometimes, a smile and a hello is enough to make them feel alive. Maybe a warm, toothless smile is accompanied with the offer of a hot ‘chai’. If so, consider yourself blessed. They don’t open their hearts and hearths to all and sundry. The chai, their company and their pearls of wisdom are priceless. A few nostalgic reminiscences interspersed with “in our days” comparisons won’t hurt you, maybe they even add a new dimension to your life. Maybe, someone somewhere will be doing the same with your parents when they need it the most. After all the chain of good deeds shows up unexpected links. If nothing else, I can assure you that you’ll definitely sleep easy that night.

I remember a very heart warming incident. I saw a middle-aged woman with a frail lady in a wheelchair at a mall. Both of them were tucking heartily into McDonald’s burger, and chatting animatedly. There was such a strong resemblance in their facial features that it did not take exceptional deductive skills to make out that they were mother and daughter. I heard the younger one edge her mother on to hurry up lest they miss the movie. The mother smiled and said, ‘I want to have an ice-cream as well.’ The daughter mock-rolled her eyes and proceeded to get ice-creams for the both of them. I smiled to myself.

The battles that our seniors wage and the indignities they suffer are sometimes so basic that one wonders why no one thought of doing something about it. I know how terrible I recently felt when my fiercely independent parents (god bless them!) shared that the print on medicine foils was so fine that they couldn’t read it even with glasses. They disliked it, but had to ask for help from other family members to read it. Why can’t our companies make the print bolder at least for geriatric medicines (meant for the elderly), where missing a dose or making a mistake could be a matter of life and death?
 A little more thought, a little more moral responsibility could actually make all the difference in someone’s life somewhere. Remember the adoring look your parents always reserved for you – well, it’s payback time!ndian society lays a lot of emphasis on “respect for elders”.  The question is what do we mean by the term “respect”?

Generally speaking it is used to mean deference to the opinions of elders, being subservient to their needs and expectations, consulting them for every decision – big and small – that one has to take in life.

Is this really a healthy trend?  Respect and love for elders is certainly healthy and necessary.  Looking after their needs, loving and cherishing them are the hallmark of an emotionally healthy society.  They make for happy senior citizens.

The problem really lies in the fact that this very concept is confused with allowing elders to dominate and run the life of youngsters, thus depriving them of a chance to live and learn, thus gathering their own experiences.  This is very disturbing.  It is sometimes convenient to allow someone else to make decisions for us and then shove the responsibility for everything – good, bad or ugly – onto their shoulders.  But this is the very trait that later leads to very major problems.  Come the time when elders pass on into eternity, the “youngsters” (who may be by then middle-aged or senior citizens themselves) are left totally unequipped to face the challenges of life on their own and to be the guiding light to the younger generation.  Although this sounds like an extreme situation, it is not uncommon.

The other problem with this scenario is the fact that times are changing fast.  The older generation, though experienced in many basic issues of life may not necessarily be so experienced in others, as they may find it difficult to comprehend the emerging new scenarios on the Indian scene.  Apart from this they have to be able to let go “for the good” of the youngsters.  The latter must be allowed to take some hard decisions – right or wrong – and learn for themselves.  What better time than when the “elders” are still around to buffer any hurt?

It is fine to advise them in matters like handling people, money and the like.  But some decisions may have repercussions that no one can foresee or guard against.  No one, not even very seasoned elders.  So let the youngsters take that decision based on the data available to them.  Let the elders be the sounding board for the youngsters to evaluate the pros and cons of any action without imposing their decisions on the youngsters.
Most elders would say they want to see their children happy, but would then go on to define “how” they want them to be happy.  They lay out the parameters and definitions for the happiness of the youngsters on their own perception of happiness forgetting that the concept of happiness undergoes a sea change with the efflux of time. In this process they end up making the youngsters unhappy by not allowing them to follow their own hearts in some very fundamental matters like what they would like to study or whom they would like to get married to.  Simply falling blindly in line does not necessarily mean the youngsters “respect and love” their elders in the real sense of the word.  It could just be fear and resentment.
Unless there is love, there can be no respect.  This is something that needs to be realized to ensure a happier and more content society.

Man also goes through the cycle of second childhood when he grows old. What pains me is that the current generation has a care free attitude, and leaving their parents in old-age homes. please remember that When one grows old the mental and physical capacities go down - here is when he/she needs help and hand holding. The present generation is leading a hify life but never cares for the elderly parents who patiently wait for a few words from them - the parents live in solitude expecting someone to speak to them and make them feel happy and wanted in this world.
Like Dhobie ka Kutta elderly are treated as toss between home and   Ghat!
And this news comes on a day earmarked for awareness of abuse of Elders.
Choice of quotient -Economic or Emotional!
 choice of venue - by payer/ by elder
Perceptions are many and these days options are also catching up!

Starting an Old Age Home in USA-Retirement community in Thrisanku swargam!

Retirement community in Thrisanku swargam!

I have always come across people saying that its a headache to take care of elders - I would think within myself - imagine if the same would have been thought by your parents when you were a kid.

Every month sending money from abroad or from the city that you live in, does not fulfill the void created by feeling lonely and wanting to be talked to,listened to,cared for. We have to make them feel that the world is still wanting you and is a better place to lead a life to the fullest stand beside your parents because they had a dream with you, they did so much for you. Most important what you are today is only for your parents not anyone else in the world. Look your parents with Love and care.

from a mail.

PL Refer and read this article

Once it was known as a pensioner's paradise. Today, in the Elder Abuse Survey 2014 conducted by HelpAge India, Bangalore

No comments:

Post a Comment