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Our Old Age Home

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Agatha83, Feb 10, 2020.

  1. Agatha83

    Agatha83 IL Hall of Fame

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    I fondly recall those days of growing up in a house, which always resembled an overcrowded railway station. There were no taps flowing with piped water, sophisticated toilets, with trendy bathroom fittings or a modular kitchen to boast of. But there was plenty of human warmth, laughter, light banter, some times serious fights, ending up with concerned people walking away from the house and then returning back in a jiffy. No hard feelings, no apologies. No need for watching those tear jerkers of yesteryears actors Shivaji Ganeshan, Savitri etc, since we were assured of a daily quota of emotional dramas free of charge, in ample amounts.

    Coming to the present times, the growth of nuclear families provide immense scope to develop individuality of every family member, offers a lot of privacy, and individual space, things which we couldn’t even dream about, given the tiny living spaces teeming with ten members. Along with the prolific growth of nuclear families, there also came the crèches for children, quite convenient for the working couple, homes with advanced security systems , where the children could be monitored 24 hours, and old age homes for senior citizens, terms unheard of six decades back. Does the existence of such homes, speak well of a society living in complete Harmony or are they in total isolation without the warmth of close blood relations?

    Very soon I realized the ugly reality behind the infinite growth of nuclear families, and old age homes, when I went in search of a rented apartment. Most of the owners within the city insisted on a family of just 3 or 4 members, including the kids, the sky high rentals not matching the apartment size. When I brought out the topic of my bedridden mom, I could see the glowing positive responses and warm smiles from the house owners face till then, vanishing instantly, bereft of emotions, their face resembling a silent Death Valley, and the result was - you know, it was a - straight No.

    It’s not only the prospective DILs who did not want a baggage of In laws prowling behind them, Even the house owners were strictly against the size of family not exceeding 4. No guests and if at all you had guests, no staying for more than 4 days. No dogs, no non vegetarians, no late night parties, no, no no———

    It was almost six months that our hunt for a decent accommodation continued, yielding no results. It was then that a eureka moment stuck me, when I shouted Retirement homes or old age homes - for all the three of us. Old age homes there were many we walked through, but none were ready to accept a bed ridden patient. Those who were ready to accept, had the worst sanitary conditions. Those vacant looks on the faces of the inmates wherever we went, gave me sleepless nights.

    Most of the inmates were not allowed to talk to outsiders, but when everyone repeated that they were taken care well of, there was a streak of suspicion creeping in my mind. Most of them in their nighties and their hair chopped off due to medical reasons, presented a pitiable sight.

    When I went through a series of online videos in search of a decent accommodation, I stumbled upon scores of talk shows, regarding old age homes, in which, the heart breaking narration of their joining the old age homes brought tears in my eyes. Many of them were tortured both physically and mentally, by their grown up kids, which prodded the elderly couple to leave their homes without a word. Many of them still not in contact with their children -the sons or daughters, who never for a moment thought about searching for their lost parents, those selfless human beings, who had given their entire life for them.

    Most of the old people had mortgaged their house for their sons education, sold off their jewellery for their daughters marriage, saving not a single pie for those rainy days. In their twilight years when they should be sharing happy times with their grand and great grand children, they were spending their last days or years in those old age homes, which gave them everything except the human warmth which only their children could give.

    The retirement homes was a complete contrast to these old age homes, where some of them had a long waiting list of clients who would like to have a place in their homes. Many of them had beauty parlors, a trendy Gym, library, Doctors on visit, Ambulance, concierge services, laundry, attenders, perfect luxury and great ambiance which only money could buy. Yes, the prices were so high that only the rich or parents of NRIs could afford.

    Some problems which human beings cannot solve, silent prayers to the Almighty get solved by itself. My dear Mom passed away and we had no hassles in shifting from a 1500 sq ft flat to a small 500 sq feet house located in the heart of the city. If Me and my DH had been young, we would have enjoyed the cuddly proximity the small place offered, but with old age we took all precautions to see we did not have a heads on collision . The fear of loosing our precious, pricey dentures and broken ribs always put us into the habit of respectfully giving way to each other, one virtuous habit which was missing all these years between us.

    The only noises that emanate within the four walls of our tiny space are loud farts and belching, while we look at each other with suspicion even as foul smells of methane and sulfur dioxide fill up the air. Hi folks, please dont be jealous of the perfect ‘chemistry’ of understanding between us.

    Guests - yes we have lots of them - loud crows cawing, flying around restlessly, squirrels chasing each other with their loud mating calls, humming birds, invisible Koels with their full throated solitary cooing, screeching sounds of happy parakeets flying around and a tall green Mango tree which graciously accommodates all these living creatures free of charge. As Life goes on peacefully in our Old Age Home, I fondly recall those precious moments when the small house where I grew up, eternally resonating with human laughter and friendly chatter! welcome one and all to our Old Age Home!
     
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  2. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Agatha

    Lovely write up. It is indeed very sad when we see inmates of old age homes.

    Though many peopleh are marketing a lot of luxuries we don't know how it will be once you get in.

    I am happy you were able to find a home.

    Regards
    Uma
     
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  3. joylokhi

    joylokhi Platinum IL'ite

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    A very nice write up of the current reality of senior citizens in particular. More than half the population we see around are staying by themselves with their adult children residing out of station if in India or abroad too in many cases. And, as u say life does go on smoothly andpeacefully in such cases, although this is not an ideal situation. As long as health permits, it is ok. It is when they cannot manage themselves physically and major problems arise and the need for dependency on others arise. It is almost impossible to imagine peaceful coexistence of joint families these days especially where the DILs of the house are also working full time. The question of all the work involved and its distribution and constant comparisons to what they were used to in their parental homes, or even comparison with peers etc and expectations on both sides of the DIL/MIL situation, just does not seem to match and I would say where it is contiuing , is also only due to some form of compulsion. Where there is financial independence, it is possible for seniors to stay separate and keep in touch, to maintain a semblance of cordiality in relationships. Thus ultimately, although money is not all, but it becomes the main reason for peaceful existence/ co existence in old age!
     
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  4. sln

    sln Finest Post Winner

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    Most of the inmates were not allowed to talk to outsiders, but when everyone repeated that they were taken care well of, there was a streak of suspicion creeping in my mind. Most of them in their nighties and their hair chopped off due to medical reasons, presented a pitiable sight.
    You have beautifully narrated the evolution of options for the aged.I am aware of a place in Chennai where inmates were scared to speak to outsiders lest they should lose their deposits.I stayed in two retirement homes for a couple of years in search of solitude after Mythili passed away. There are reasonably priced homes which are well maintained but without frills at coimbatore and mettupalayam.It was difficult for singles but couples relaxed ,free from worries of maintenance and making food.One thing is certain -seniors are not helpless as there are many options.SLN
     
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  5. kkrish

    kkrish Finest Post Winner

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    @Agatha83 ma'am

    A painful read. Yes, the changing times have their positives and negatives.

    Sometimes when I hear/read/ the way the younger generation dealing with their parents I cannot but help but think, "they are also going to be old one day ... "

    Despite the heart heavy subject I could not help but smile at the humor you injected in.

    Let me also go and begin exploring the old age options they have here so i can tell my children how to deal with me when it is time.
    Thank you for the "this is reality" post.
     
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  6. Agatha83

    Agatha83 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @umaakumar,

    I see many people, Celebrating their birthdays, anniversaries etc visiting such Homes,
    offering them a good breakfast or lunch or new clothes. But the inmates long for the precious visit of their kith and kin, a few kind words, people with whom they can connect emotionally - these are the only things which can put back a smile on their forlorn faces. It’s a sad reality! Yes, for the present, due to God’s grace, life is peaceful at our new home.

    Agatha83
     
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  7. Agatha83

    Agatha83 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @joylokhi,

    Most of the present generation of in laws are well aware of the changes that are happening in the society and have adapted well to the changing scenario. But in cities space is a problem and when even a 2 year old wants to have his room replete with a TV, laptop and PlayStation, it’s the in laws who have to sacrifice their individual space.

    Many of the senior citizens who are old and in need of each other’s help, are forced to live separately, with the siblings, taking care of the kids, running the house.when they actually need some rest at the fag end of their lives.

    There are many old people selling off their properties, and settling down in a senior citizens home, because what they need in their twilight years is security. Children killing their parents for property has become a common news. Better safe than sorry!

    Agatha83
     
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  8. Agatha83

    Agatha83 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @sln

    It was some of the posh advertisements in a local newspaper which led me in search of those old age homes, but the reality was otherwise. Most of them located in rented premises, in distant suburbs, the houses with steep staircases and 80 year old elders put up in the first or second floors. No wheel chairs, no doctors, the entire place being least friendly towards the needs of senior citizens.

    For senior citizens who are financially well off there are plenty of options, but for those who are abandoned by their sons and daughters, it’s a life time punishment!

    Agatha83
     
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  9. Agatha83

    Agatha83 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear @kkrish

    I knew very well that what I was presenting here was a painful reality, but I wanted to share the shocking scenes that unfolded before me, when I visited some of the homes. Those sad faces continued to haunt me for a long time and made me realize the futility of depending upon our children for all our needs.

    I realized that women have to be mentally strong and also learn to face loneliness because more than any disease, it is depression that causes the death of many old people. The subject was so heavy, so I thought of adding a little humor, which would soften the pain!

    Agatha83
     
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  10. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Agatha,

    It is painful to read the sufferings people undergo in old age spending their time alone in old age homes or retirement homes or individual apartments with no kith and kin to support them. It is true the days when we were all living in a home filled with so many people were golden age as it transcended the limitations of the relationship. The uncles and aunts were no different than our own parents.

    We have now evolved into a different world where the world has become a global village. Whenever I read the "home-cooked meal for the seniors" advertisement, I always wonder whether that would taste the same as a fresh-cooked meal served by the adult children. I believe our generation is the only generation which had seen large joint-families as well as nuclear families in our lifetime. Maybe the next generation may not go through the pain we are experiencing now.

    I felt your pain in your words, "Some problems which human beings cannot solve, silent prayers to the Almighty get solved by itself". I know you took very good care of your mother until she passed away despite all that you had to go through.

    Luckily, my wife has her mother here with us. However, my mother went through a painful 8-year life span as a bedridden patient as well. Luckily, she had a home of her own, and my brother took care of her until her end. The plants, birds, activities in an apartment complex are the companions for most seniors nowadays.
     

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