Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Senior Citizens: Everyone ignores the plight of the elderly

WE HAD a culture, we still have. We had time and we have it now also. But there is dramatic change in the attitude of people towards life, notion of people about life and of course our lifestyle.

A study undertaken by NGO HelpAge India brought to notice the sorry state of senior citizens, rather parents of those who are enjoying the comfort and luxury of the materialistic world.

On the basis of a survey of 500 senior citizens of Delhi and Mumbai:

12 per cent of them said no one cared whether they existed or not

The most severely isolated and lonely are the people over 75, particularly women who are widowed and living alone

21 per cent feel more or less alone and socialise rarely, even with their children

13 per cent feel trapped within their homes

33 per cent said they were left alone after their children moved away

88 per cent said loneliness could lead to ailments

They could be parents of anyone - you, me or someone else. They are hardly of any importance to their children when they are taking some last steps of their journey. Life has played an ironic game with the elderly and respectable citizens.

As they moved ahead to upgrade the position of their children in personal and professional world, they degraded their own. Their responsibility comes back as a curse on them.

They are wiped off from home, as we do with dust.
They are drained out, as we do with waste and unwanted material.

Every problem has a solution, be it long term or short term, sustainable or non-sustainable. But this problem does not have a solution. Making old age home is not a solution, because the problem is not related to infrastructure, economy or politics, it is a problem that questions the very existence of humanity?

Now we have a law -‘Parents and Senior Citizen Bill, 2007’, which has come at the stage of 60 years of our independence. This law is solely meant for the maintenance of elders - only maintenance! The law empowers the elders by providing them with a legal tool. Very clearly - this tool gives smell of changing scenario across India. And no doubt, the law has been made by sensing the kind of environment and world we are heading towards.

The law punishes those who fail to give maintenance. The maintainer could be any one - son, grandson or anyone else – that inherits the property. The law, in fact says the very filthy situation of elders, shakes the foundation of humanity.

Is it money and property only that drives a person to take care of someone? And the situation does not demand to take care of anyone but those who are the basis of our existence. Have we lost every bit of human temperament to maintain the culture we had been following? No doubt, development is being made in all dimensions, but the matter of humanity is still underdeveloped.

Giving law a simple meaning - “those who inherit the property are supposed to provide maintenance, food, shelter, medicine and required needs…” or they would be punished – three months jail and a penalty of Rs 5000. So ironically, the law is used to tackle a problem that is completely a matter of humanity. A big paradox!

Experts say - we need more and more old age home for ailing and groaning elders.

Why? No, we don’t need that. Certainly not!! So far as the law is concerned, it certainly does not incorporate the essence of humanity in it. What about those who feel trapped and lonely in their own home? Law should be made to make them feel worth living on this earth. We already have nightmarish situation and if we move further in this direction, the emotional connection would vanish completely. Do we only survive for money and matters related with it? Is there any importance of emotions and feelings left - that had been acting as cement in keeping us together? As it seems - the water of humanity has completely evaporated from such togetherness.

It should be taken up as a national rather than an international issue. It is a problem as grave as global warming and terrorism. Moreover, there has to be debate, discussions and arguments to get a humane solution.

C’mon guys, humanity is at stake! Don’t let your soul get contaminated. There has to be a long term and human solution. Certainly not: old age home and money made legal heir!!

“Take care of your parents and your children will take care of you,” should be the nationwide slogan to improve the situation we have today.

By Swet Sarika


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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