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Old and Homeless but Not Hopeless

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Aashi Prateek

Patna, June 6, 2019: Parents always offer helping hands to their children without exception to prepare them to stand their own but they are getting a raw deal as they are not getting reciprocated when they grow old.

Elders in the family face numerous problems as a result of social transformation that the society is undergoing which is moving from traditional ways to modern lifestyle. Modern lifestyle has its own shortcomings that require many compromises and adjustments. Many parents are forced to live in old-age home (OAH) which is a new concept at least in India. So let’s look into the genesis of old-age home.

Every family has its own problems. Some families have single child, some other having two or more children to look after their parents. But these days priorities are changing and priority children is success in life and a bright future. Still some children take the responsibility of parents due to social compulsions while others consider it a liability after certain age of their parents.

The other thing that is very unfortunate many children face embarrassment in taking care of their parents. So the concept of old age home comes from such kind of mindset. Under this concept you are supposed to leave elders of the family in an OAH under the care of others who are managing a system where old-age people are taken care of.

The estimated population of old age people from 65 year and above in India is over 10 crore. Approximately 10 to 20 per cent elders face health problem to different degree. A private old-age home near GD Misra Road, Aasraya was started in 2016. Director of Aasraya, Ashok Shirvastava, has started this project as a workshop, but it converted it into a home for aged parents. Around a dozen people visited there recently which has 25 total senior citizens.

Vijay Nath, a senior citizen at Aasraya, who is a former Journalist of a newspaper said, “I never thought that I would land up in such a situation. I am bachelor so i don’t have any child to look after me. After my retirement, my brother and his wife refused to bear my burden.”

In another case Dr R P Nikhel, another senior citizen from OAHs Aasraya, said, “I was professor at NIT, Allahabad and reason for me to be here is that I got my rib cage fractured and I lost my wife five years ago in an  accident. I have only one daughter who is unable to take care of me. So I am living here from past five years.”

Pallavi Guddi, a physically challenged elder from Aasraya said, “I was borne with some deformity and was unable to walk and unable to do my regular work. My parents brought me up. They are no more now. My family has abandoned me for over a year.”

Sahara, an old-age home near Arrah Garden, Jagdeo Path, is the only governmental old-age home in the city. Superintendent of Sahara, Manoj Kumar, said, “It is being run under the Social Welfare Department. Around 27 people have enrolled in Sahara. Majority of inmates have mental illness. Another NGO, Sarvangin Vikas Samiti provides some additional funds to it. “I come from a BPL family. I had no children. After my husband’s death, my situation became vulnerable and my in-laws abandoned me on a footpath. I never imagined that I would ever have live at a OAH,” said Damini Devi, a senior citizen at Sahara.

According to Banwari Lal Bhim Saria, another old aged person at Sahara, “My four sons have abandoned me at footpath. Reason behind is their property. Being the single child of my parents, I never expected to have my last breath without my family.” Saria added that since he had been brought up in luxurious life-style, he could not imagine the life in an OAH.

It is right that most of the elders at OAHs are not happy as they are forced to live in isolation. Unfortunately, children are unable to come on time when parents fall sick and even die in OAHs. The life of elders in the present times is full of problem due to modernization not only for old people but their children also. There is no denying the fact that old-age homes have become part of the social system. The fortunate elders live with satisfaction and peace of mind, while others live in a misery depending on others.

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