The world must seem to be expanding in every way but many times we forget to notice the core part being collapsing gradually and we try as humans to dream to build a skyscraper with a loose foundation. The core part is collapsing and contracting. Where opportunities to make goals in each sector are opened, the humans’ race to grab it anyhow they somewhere leave behind the most important aspect and core part of their life, the parents.
We once lived in a joint family under one roof with blood relatives, now living a pathetic life of loneliness. For generations, India had the prevailing culture of Joint Hindu Undivided Family.
The system is an extended family arrangement prevalent pan Indian subcontinent, bound by common relationships. The system of HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) had a ritual of following the tradition where the family was headed by a senior-most person called ‘Karta’ – usually the eldest male /female who made decisions on social and economic matters. Where family income flew into a common pool, to meet the needs of all members.
However, with the Urbanization and economic development, India witnessed a breakup of traditional joint families into more nuclear ones. The fever of westernization over Indian heads many times turns out to be disadvantageous for our varied and glorious culture saying “Matru Devo bhava and Pitru Devo bhava.” where people put at stake their traditions and values for gaining success and fulfilling material needs. Where the traditional Joint family system in India accounted for a smaller no. of households, today it is fading away and getting extinct.
There come many reasons to mind and are even felt in a reality where parents can be seen turning to a burden for the young generation.
Firstly, the free lifestyle of present-day youngsters is the reason from where the detachment from family begins. The gadgets have taken place in the free meantime of young nerds and that causes a detachment from family and surroundings.
Secondly, we can see once after the marriage the man slowly moves away from the family with a want to grow his own family to live an independent life.
In other situations when we talk about, it feels really unfortunate to present the facts where children draft agreements to share parents for their convenience for a certain period and they swap them for another certain time lap. This is saddening to witness, where parents who sold out their everything once to make the children grow large happily and those children paying back off their love and support with such inhuman practices.
In many, maybe most of the cases it is seen that once after the marriage of son in the house, the daughter-in-law (in many cases not all) try to rule the house in some way or the other. Often it happens that due to the generation gap the in-laws and the woman folk do not match up to one opinion and then that be the reason for the quarrel. Even the daily soaps play a vital role in developing such hatred among the in-laws and woman folks in the family by portraying those relations with black ink and that affects the intellectual capacity of a human a lot and when such crap things are continually hammered on one’s head, it will harm family and family relations.
Couple of times we see, and it’s even said that once a son brings wife, the parents’ role starts declining in his life. Many of the readers won’t agree with the point but when seen intricately one can see the reality even in their own house. After getting a life partner, men start looking at themselves as a balance machine to both sides but somewhere act one-sidedly only. Psychology says its human tendency to go for a choice which gains him quick joys and mental relief and with the one who matches up to the same age as of the thinker. Therefore, we see men in such households slowly inclining towards their woman folk and in due course will be gradually drifting away leaving their parents.
There are many such aged couples we see either on roads or in old age homes who are ditched by their children or have no children to take care of them.
On the flip side, old age homes provide a roof to such unfortunate parents and couples who are left to die in vulnerable conditions and take care due care of them. They not only provide shelter but also aged people in pitiable conditions are admitted in such and are took care of, which was once scarce but now has seen spread everywhere.
The problem of ignoring elders and throwing them out was much prevalent in China. According to the Chinese government statistics more than 178 million people in China were 60 years of age and above in 2010. It is estimated that by 2030 this figure will get double. After coming to know the elders’ problem, the Chinese govt. came with a law to protect “Elders’ Rights Law” to deal with the one who carries out inhuman practices with their aged parents then often.
When we look at the Indian scenario, we see nowadays aged parents are forced to live alone and are exposed to various problems such as lack of physical, financial, social, emotional support.
To overcome such challenges India has enacted the “Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act” –legislation enacted in 2007 initiated by the Ministry of social justice and empowerment by GOI to provide more effective provisions for maintenance and welfare of society, parents, and senior citizens.
Looking at the statistics we find there is a total of 728 old age homes currently running in India. Among them, 101 are exclusively for women.
- Kerala has 124 old age homes which are the highest among the other states.
On a survey being done at an old age home in Surat city of Gujarat (Oct. 2006 – Jan. 2007), the reason that came out from the elderly people of the old age home were shocking. A total of 103 reasons were given by the residents of the old age home which comprise.
|Neglected and living alone||36.9%|
|Neglect after decreased income contribution||10.7%|
|Lower medical care expenses and living cost in old age homes are compared to living alone independently||9.7%|
|Physical and verbal abuse and insults by daughter-in-law and son||8.7%|
|Neglect by the family due to high treatment cost and care||6.8%|
|Peaceful and spiritual life||1.9%|
|Drug addict and abusive son||1%|
|Belongings lost in natural calamities||1%|
The main reason that emerged was the unwillingness of the family to care for the aged, which has been expressed through abuse, neglect, and refusal to co-habit and care for them. This was pronounced in the elderly who required extensive medical care, economically disadvantaged, and those who had distributed their wealth to children. The elderly had reported having felt unwanted and useless while living with their families. Forty-six percent had felt uncomfortable during their initial stay at old-age homes due to feelings of displacement from their neighbors, friends, relatives, and family. They had stated that they had done their best for their children and society, and now they deserved reciprocation.
Subsequently, 100% of them had felt better and comfortable, and 73.5% had opined that such homes were ideal settings for the aged as it is inevitable; abolishes everyday abuse; gives a sense of belongingness with fellow residents and provides better services. The qualities of services were better in paid homes, and this was reflected in their satisfaction levels.
The discarding of this vulnerable group from the intergenerational family in the absence of adequate social networks and universal social security and left to increasing reliance on the individual self, state, and private institutions pose a grim future scenario for the elderly.
It is our responsibility to make India – a nation known for its diverse cultures yet stand together as one strong pillar a place where we retain that culture of “Matru Devo bhava. and Pitru Devo bhava…”.