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The Old Age Crisis In India

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By Anshul Tewari:

A homeless man smokes as he is wrapped in a quilt at a pavement early morning in the old quarters of Delhi November 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTX15UKC
REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

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 parent 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 household 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 grandparents 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.

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  1. Fatima

    This is so sad. Unfortunately there are people who treat their parents like burden. how can they?! Those people who gave them life and made them what they are, are thrown out – juts cuz they now need more care and attention. Pathetic. Won't these people grow old too? And won't karma come back to them then…

  2. Prof. Manisha Shukla

    It is truth. Definately it is possible to change but this journey must start with every ourselves. Otherwise it could not cure. It needs patience & humanity towards old aged.
    So please join to new way of thinking

    1. fidha fathima

      its one of the inspiring and touching article ,i never had before
      now, old ages are in a verge situations which induce them to give up all their hopes and concerns about their wards. what a terrible situation! Are we expecting our country to be in the first position in the construction of old age homes??????

  3. gayathri

    in my opinnion the governmernt must more aware of this problem.

  4. Rishi Kesan

    this happens stilll the people who couldn’t get the real word of love

  5. ffffffff

    wh should everything be done by the government we should start acting aginst this abuse to our parents by ourselves.these people who throw their parents out are illetrate

  6. batul

    very well written its really touching and inspirable…..

    1. Bernadeth riksime sangma

      Every Indian children should not leave our parents alone in their old age homes because they are like God.

  7. Vishesh Gupta

    As a matter of fact, it’s a truth and we need to face it, that elders in India are ill treated and treated as a burden on society. It’s actually a crisis period for them, also considering the current economic condition of the country. I would like mention here an organization
    “The Golden Estate”, based in Delhi which has come up with this initiative to
    support the senior citizens. They have built up service apartments especially
    for the senior citizens and provide all the modern amenities and fool proof security. Just have a look at this video

  8. vishesh sharma

    This is just sad and unacceptable. We need to get the youth together to ensure that seniors are given their due respect and allowed to live with the dignity they deserve. After all they have been more responsible than us in creating a wonderful place for us to live. We should ensure that these become the golden years of their life.

  9. Madavi. H

    The message what was given was 100% true.. but we cant change everyone’s thought, it should come from there heart..
    only than, the society can be changed.. i wish all should treat their parents in a good way and not hurt them at any time or at any
    situation, has they do to us..

  10. GRM

    Government has different plans to help senior citizens in country but money issued for help vanishes in corruption. I agree that no parent wants to be burden up on their children and want to see them progressive. But now situation has changed totally. The relation bond between them is gradually loosing. They consider old person a hurdle in their freedom. Senior citizen in present time scenario should also exercise control their own to minimize the unnecessary expectation from children because in present time every one is already burdened from all around.

  11. Sandip

    In Indian society, the question is who has to look after the Parents? A daughter get married and moves away and has responsibility of her family. Man has to slog whole day, comes tired at night. In urban areas even his wife is required to work to meet two ends, Grand children are busy with their studies. Main person becoming responsible to look after parents physically is daughter-in-law, who has no blood relation and actually not obliged to take the responsibility. Sr Citizen homes are either filthy or expensive. Nursing at home is also expensive. Only solution is one of the child to remain unmarried and look after their parents. With my personal experience, I remained unmarried, retired at 40 and took responsibility of my parents. My mother died recently at 90 and father is 95. They consider themselves blessed. I believe charity starts at home. But so do I. Had a wonderful life spending time with them and get their blessings. Society thinks I have given a sacrifice but I do not think so. My parents have done so much for me that what I have been doing for them is just nothing. My siblings are happy with their own family and we are with us.

  12. Hasan

    This is so bad for them they cannot here or walk prooperly and sitting lonley ay all time wan’t this people grow old too an wan’t karama to back then

  13. Arvind Nagar

    Nothing in this article looks right and make sense. I am commenting because about 60 years ago the Readers Digest used to write ” India is the only country where men live longer than women “.
    From Aryan days older people were the judges to solve disputes and were full of wisdom. Buddha, a wise man also refers to an old man. They own the property from their ancestors and pass on to their kids. Women practically live longer than man. It is true of my Mom, Sisters, Bhabhis, Chachis,Tyes. Foofies and other relations ( not existing in other cultures ) It may be a true case in some urban areas where foreign influences have affected the relationships. World should not be jealous of culture and religion of India.

  14. Arvind Nagar

    Thanks for concerns about elderly parents. They are our creator and are the reason of our existence. What you can do as an individual, as a family, greater family, society and what can governments do. J.C. Penney had no money and he started to collect pennies. Einstein had no formal education. Abraham Lincoln was a farmer. To do some thing for your concern is the most important thing. Best wishes and Best of luck!

  15. taniya

    Comment *the one who gave us life make us that much capable that we can stand on our own hold our finger to walk and when we fall is with us .they think us must preetiest gift on earth ,whole life spent for nourishing us what we can do for the we are are not that,much capable that we can give them anything but we can do one thing for them be with in their old age and make them happy be with them when they need us and by not thinking burden on us. make them smile whoake your life.

  16. Dr Prasanna kumar K

    Road non maintenance and unsafe is an evil thing. Indian roads is most dangerous. Sovereign function shall focus on it Mere helmet and perusing papers and documents are eye washes action and aimed at making revenue A serious approach is inevitable. Dereliction and its laxity on this matter may cause accidents of dear and near. That time officers can measure others plight and loss.
    An unsafe road is more danger than a betrayer always.

  17. danny

    The problem is not in actually taking care of parents. The problem is living together.

    Let me get this straight. In India, there is more to elderly care than meets the eye. Here it’s not enough if children have a cordial relationship with parents, and provide medical and financial assistance when needed.

    Children are expected to be blindly obedient towards their elders. Adult children live with their parents instead of having their own independent stead. Expect the society and your own parents to label you a blackguard if you are a married son and dare move out of your parental home. In many households, whatever the elders say is the final word, regardless of the younger ones’ desires, happiness or even the correctness or unfairness of that decision.

    Do you call this “caring for your parents”?

    If you truly care for someone, would you like to see them constantly clinging on to you or rather would enable them to lead their own life independently and happily?

    Also, before you judge people, think twice.

    Maybe both the adults are working long hours and it is difficult for any of them to cut down.

    Is the parent safer in a lonely home or a well provided old age home which has round the clock facilities and care?

    What if the children actually are not financially, physically or logistically capable of caring for their parents?

    What if the parents are abusive?

    What if the lifestyle of the parent(s) is drastically different from those of their adult children so they practically cannot live together in peace?

    Most importantly, where do the wife’s parents go if the daughter is an only child?

    Why are we assuming that our parents really need us constantly? They could be having their own desires, dreams and hobbies that they can fulfil while living away from their children. Parents, even elderly ones, need their own space. They had to give up on that when the kids were around. It is unfair to rob them of it now.

    A lot of young people actually live with their parents because they are incapable of shouldering household responsibilities themselves. Is this “care” or “parasitism”?

    Lastly, while we should definitely take responsibility for making sure our parents are doing well, we should also be able to sift real need from the fuss. I think it is quite prevalent in India for older people to just give up on life and expect younger people to serve them hand on foot. Just so many people retire to their armchair and let their idleness become a devil’s workshop. If people were busy living life, do you think they would have time for bullshit such as finding faults with their children and daughters in law?

    I see just so many 50 plus women who would kick up a fit and fuss or faint on cue just to gain their married son’s attention or to malign their daughter in law. I see so many fathers who decide what course their kids should take and which company they should work in. Parents even tell their 25 something children how they should dress. If people knew how to live and let live, this would be a non issue.

    Anyway, to sum up, you must have a healthy, loving and cordial relationship with your parents, make sure their economic and health situations are sound and that’s about it. Be it your own home or wherever they want to live or even an old age home, there is no right or wrong.

  18. gope Aniya

    we should always respect elder people

  19. mallika gupta

    Very nice matter…point to point

  20. mallika gupta

    Nice matter….sad to see the plight of—– oldies!!

  21. sanjay

    I am taking care of my father since 16 years before and after marriage but i got married with three daughters to take care. I have elder son who has ignored all these years and made money out of his property and when i asked to take care of my father since he has also responsibility being a Elder son but he refuses and says cock-and-bull stories that he took care and insisting that he took care, but my father was with me for more than 16 years. Now i am in not a position to take care of him due to financial crises already i took many medical expenditures cataract etc without others help. Can any one suggest to solve this issue for elder son to take care from now-onwards.

    1. Arif Sana

      You can take Law help Children who abandon parents in their twilight years, beware. They may face three months’ imprisonment and cannot even appeal against the punishment .It ensure that elderly people are taken care of by their children failing which they would face penal action.
      it provides for three months’ jail term if children do not look after old parents. The penal provision is meant to act as a deterrent .

  22. Arif Sana


  23. Shubham Dev

    Such a great Article.

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