The Old Age Crisis in India
By Anshul Tewari:
In India, around 2/3rd of the population is below or close to 30, so does talking about old age problems (which exist) sound awkward?
Consider this, out of every 10 elderly couples in India, more than 6 are forced by their children to leave their homes. With no place to go and all hopes lost, the elderly have to resort to old age homes, which do not guarantee first class treatment. In India, unlike USA, parents do not leave their children on their own after they turn 18 (of course there are exceptions), but children find it hard to accept the fact that there are times when parents want to feel the love that they once shared with them. There are times when parents just want to relax and want their children to reciprocate their care. Every parents wants to see their child grow and be successful but no parent wants their child to treat them like an unnecessary load on their responsibilities.
Every other day, we see news of parents being beaten up by their children, parents and in laws being forced to do the house hold chores, being made to live in small dungeon like rooms, their property being forcefully taken over by over ambitious children.
There are 81million older people in India-11 lakh in Delhi itself. According to an estimate nearly 40% of senior citizens living with their families are reportedly facing abuse of one kind or another, but only 1 in 6 cases actually comes to light. Although the President has given her assent to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act which punishes children who abandon parents with a prison term of three months or a fine, situation is grim for elderly people in India.
According to NGOs incidences of elderly couples being forced to sell their houses are very high. Some elderly people have also complained that in case of a property dispute they feel more helpless when their wives side with their children. Many of them suffer in silence as they fear humiliation or are too scared to speak up. According to them a phenomenon called ‘grand dumping’ is becoming common in urban areas these days as children are being increasingly intolerant of their parents’ health problems.
After a certain age health problems begin to crop up leading to losing control over one’s body, even not recognizing own family owing to Alzheimer are common in old age. It is then children began to see their parents as burden. It is these parents who at times wander out of their homes or are thrown out. Some dump their old parents or grand parents in old-age homes and don’t even come to visit them anymore. Delhi has nearly 11 lakh senior citizens but there are only 4 governments’ run homes for them and 31 by NGOs, private agencies and charitable trusts. The facilities are lacking in government run homes.
Forget the rights that the elderly enjoy in India. Just forget about the action that they can take. Think on moral grounds. Why do we tend to forget that the reason we are in this world is our parents, the reason we studied is our parents, the reason we were alive all this while is our parents, the reason we survived all the diseases is our mother’s care. The hands who made us walk is our parents’. When we were kids we never thought of it but we knew that no matter what, our parents will be by our side. But when our time came to show our respect, to reciprocate the love, to show our gratitude, we back out.
But the truth is that even when they are counting their last breath, they are still thinking of us!
Is the youth too insensitive to the elder? Passing comments at an old man walking slowly on the road and disturbing the flow of the traffic are our ethics? Come on youth, stand up against such injustice. DO NOT TREAT YOUR PARENTS LIKE BURDEN ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY NEED YOU.