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Old Age Homes: A Blessing or a Curse

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Old Age Homes: A Blessing or a Curse

The beautiful red rose stood amidst many on the ground. In its full bloom, the flower caught the eyes and glory of every passerby. Two days passed. The blooming rose withered to darkness, unable to stand with head held high. The same people passed by without paying any heed to it. That is life.

Life is a combination of events, initiating from gestation and terminating in ailment, commencing in the womb and ceasing in the casket. setting out from the lap and setting down in the grave. From infancy to adolescence, from adulthood to senescence, a Homosapien passes through successive events till death. Growing old is inevitable. Man is a social being and lives as a family, primarily comprising of parents and children. Both are a gift to each other from the Creator and need to be looked after at a certain stage.

Aged people and infants have many aspects in common. The infants are dependent on their parents to perform every little job for them, whereas the aged people depend upon the youth, most of the time their children. As the babies want someone to look after them round the clock, so do old people. Toddling kids want their elders to teach them and listen to their stories, whilst the aged love to share their stories with their grandchildren.

In eastern culture, joint family system and blood relations were considered to be a true asset for a family. Elder abuse was treated as a western problem and the idea of old age homes was considered insane. Change in time brought change in perception. An old man, who was once the head of the family is now a subdued member in a house of strangers. During the past two decades, old age homes have grown like mushrooms. Every coin has got two sides, so does the old age homes. Old age homes are a blessing or a curse, this largely depends upon us, as beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Looking at the brighter aspect, old age homes are a respectable and safe place for those who have no one to take care of and no shelter to live. Old age homes provide well balanced, healthy meals, medical facilities and round the clock attention to senior citizens. Contrary to the negligence and taunts at home, the well-trained staff of old age homes treat

the elderly politely and affectionately.

Senior citizens do not need money. What matters to them is company, a good listening ear, someone who can listen to their opinion, understand their emotions and resolve their problems. Living at their home, the old people are usually neglected. Thus old age homes provide senior citizens with ‘Companionship’. Since the people living at the old age homes are of the same age group, the form a “think-alike” set. The aged narrate their stories,

share their experiences and realize the sorrows of each other. The mates are subtracted from isolation.

Human health deteriorates as he grows old. Regular medical checkup becomes obligatory to ensure sound health. The elderly often suffers from diabetes, heart problems, asthma, eyesight issues and various other diseases. Medical treatment is imperative for the elderly.

Old age homes provide regular medical checkups to all their residents. This helps avoiding any advanced pathology.

Old citizens living at old homes are more active and energetic. Besides care and median check-ups, some old age homes have yoga and exercise classes too. Waking up early in the muting and doing exercise and yoga imparts physical fitness to the aged people. Since the children aren’t there to look after, aged people become responsible. They try doing their nod: on their own Recreational activities at the old age homes enable the senior citizens to smile again

To utilize the time in the best possible way, old age homes provide various opportunities to the old citizens. The aged are taught different skills involving a little effort. This mostly includes making handicrafts. These handicrafts can serve as a source of income for the aged.

The best thing about old age homes is the freedom to live. At home, old age people have to face the rude attitude and negligence of their children, most of the time They are usually considered as a burden and an obstruction m the daily activities. Contrary to this, old age homes provide the aged with the peace of mind and freedom to live. No rules, regulations and restrictions are enforced upon them. Their age is not a taunt for them at old age homes.

Besides all the merits, old age homes have got certain dark aspects as well.

1he senior citizens sent to the old age homes are naturally melancholic. They have spent all their life in bringing up their children and making their future, with the dream that they would be their right hand in old age. But when the stage of “living happily ever after" comes, the grown-up children are too busy with their own personal life. The elderly is left in isolation and finally dumped in the old age homes. Sadness in such scenario is natural, as they are left with nothing but memories.

Old age homes implant a fear among the senior citizens that they have to live there for the rest of their life. This may not be true for all eases but holds true for most. Senior citizens suffer from emotional disturbance as they miss their home and family. As subjected to old age borne, the elderly loses their will to live, their independence and their self-esteem Seldom, the family members get time to visit the head of their family.

Old age homes snatch away the authority from the senior citizens. They have no freedom of choice. For instance, the daily meals are fixed. They cannot bespeak for anything they are willing to eat at any time. They cannot alter their daily routine; they have to follow the timetable as given by the authorities. Furthermore, they cannot have him with their friends, if they have any. They are bound to watch the program of common choice on television.

A sudden change in environment demanding a change in one’s nature is difficult to adapt. All old citizens in old age homes had been the head of their families, giving orders and free to do as per their will. But old age homes demand a compromise. One has to adjust with others, irrespective of his family background.

When discussing the positives and negatives of an issue, the circumstances that lead to the issue and the consequences of the issue on the society should also be looked upon. The main reason behind the expansion of the idea of old age homes is childcare centers, commonly known as day care centers.

Till the beginning of 21“century: Sky blue baby cot covered with sleek blue bed sheet, lined with stuff toys, stars and moon shaped jingle bells hanging at the top, sky blue walls, all furniture brand new and perfectly going with each other. A warm welcome to the new arrival at home.

Soft mattress and warm blanket, medicines on the side table, clean clothes in the cupboard, books and television remote in the nearest vicinity, grandchildren to play and talk with, son to take to the doctor and daughter in law to look after the meals, the old man living con tented happy moments of old age.

In 21" Century: Room lined with twenty cots, placed in a row, all of the same wooden style, plain white walls adorned with posters of infants and photo shopped babies, the silence interrupted by the cries of little angles every now and then. Frowning bulky woman popping the feeders in mouths opened for crying. the new arrivals growing up, longing for the motherly affection and love.

Paint flaking from the walls, sole electric bulb with dimmed light, fan hanging loosely from the ceiling, wooden cot covered with greyish but originally white bed sheet, a plate and tumbler shared by many, a fragile skeletal figure living in solitude.

Old age homes have become more of a business these days. Only the old age homes run by NGO’s offer free services. Most of the private old age homes take in those citizens who have retired and have no other source of income to live on, except their pension. Since the children, by the time, mature and bread earners of home, don’t show any concern about their parents, the elderly prefer to move to the old age homes where they can live the rest of their life respectably.

Increasing trend of old age homes is leading to the complete disintegration of joint family system. The society is demoralizing with the passage of time. People are becoming more materialistic. In order to meet high standards of today's life, the elderly is being neglected. In this situation, the old age homes otter the elderly a respectable place to live.

To cap it all, nothing is all positive nor all negative. Both aspects exist side by side. But one should remember, we live in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and we have our own family norms and values. For us, every day should be a mothers ‘day, every day should be a fathers’ day and every day should be children day.

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