On Old Age Homes

On Old Age Homes
  • 1
    Share

Apparently, an old age home is slated to come up in Kashmir. It is probably the first of its kind. On the face of it, the idea is not too bad but probe a little deeper, there are obvious issues with it, both in theory and practice. The reasons, generally speaking, pertain to culture, emotion(s) and dignity, to state a few. But, first a little bit of context might be needed here. The economic and social structure of our society is in the nature of a pyramid. On the top slot(which is small), there is the economic and social elite. Then there are the middle classes followed by the bottom rung or portion which is occupied by the poor and the vulnerable. This portion is substantially larger. And, yet again, generally speaking, it is here that “problems” arise. Consider an example of a family of, say, six persons with just one bread earner who is a daily wager. Besides his meager income, he faces income volatility. He has a couple of kids and elderly parents who he has to take care of. His income barely supports the family and it takes a hit then who are likely to suffer? Usually, it is the elderly parents that take a hit. Where can they go? Who can take care of their needs at a vulnerable age? This is a conundrum that cannot be resolved by the development of old age homes. Besides a cultural and social taboo, which will make many not to send their parents home, there are other allied issues involved here as well. The parents in contention would not like to be domiciled in old age homes. Culturally, our society is a family oriented one where family is central and the elderly have special emotional needs that can only perhaps be best satisfied by the institution of the family. If the old age home idea and concept is not a workable one in the context of Kashmir, what can be done to address this grave issue? The answer might lie in lateral thinking of sorts here. What can be done is to create a pool of specially trained workers who can be sent to respective families where there are elderly people to take care of them. Another option is to create a fund, which can be actually contributed to, by the people, and place the monies in an escrow account, handled by eminent and respectable members of society. Monies can then be disbursed on a case by case basis to the elderly in a discreet and respectable way. This option will ensure that the elderly will not become a burden on their families and they can live a life of dignity and respect. Let these options be considered over others!