Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dump them when they are old?

'Worried about your retired parents? Contact XX Active Senior Living'. I was quite taken aback when I read this message on multiple hoardings on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. It took me some time to absorb the message and understand its intent.

I have heard about old-age homes. As a child, I visited a beautiful old age home in Kolkata way back in 1991. I remember it being part of an NGO initiative. We organized a cultural program for the residents there and they were delighted to have us over.

But this concept of marketing 'old age homes' as a parent-dumping ground was new to me. I made a note of the ad copy. The first line asked me if I was worried about my retired parents. All okay there - It is natural to worry about aging parents. We worry about how to guard them better against health ailments, plan their insurance and also discipline their food habits. But the idea of handing them over to an organization because they are 'physically old'? I didn't get that. Logic: Parents bring up their children. Children become adults and take care of their parents. It's that simple.

Let's walk down memory lane- quick flashback of life in early childhood. Even if we don't remember- there would be photos or videos that show how cutely terrible we were as toddlers. Each time, we looked up innocently at a helping hand for support. A loving mother or a doting father was always there - pampering us to no end. 

Think of the growing years next. Am sure you can visualize a gawky teenager who wanted the world at her/his feet. At that point in time, our friends meant the world to us and parents? They came from a different planet altogether. Every little demand was a fight and finally when parents gave in to that demand, it became an expectation. Rather - it became our right. Against all odds, the parent would go the extra mile to see a smile on the angry young teenager's face! They didn't send us to child correction juvenile homes or dump us so that specialist strangers would 'bring us up'. We always talk about how important upbringing is. I wonder if people who send their parents to old-age homes know what it means.

A couple once told me that their parents have willingly opted for these homes for a taste of  freedom! I found that quite insulting - do my parents have to go elsewhere because they feel jailed in their own home? Teenagers have innovative excuses to keep their mothers awake all night during exams as they get bored of studying alone! As an adult - is it so difficult to stop the parent from leaving home? Interestingly, a loving senior citizen at an old-age home states - 'I left home as I realized I was a burden to my son's family.' Of course, he did not tell that to his son. But it is appalling that the son didn't understand what was going on in his father's mind. 

However, I must admit that Senior Citizen homes are doing a great service to society. At least senior people now know that if their children are uncomfortable taking care of them - there are options outside home.

Today - are we so busy with our work, our priorities and our 'web-based social life' that we don't get five minutes to sit down with our parents and share a cup of tea or laugh over a simple joke? If you are worried about your parent, why do you think someone else can take better care of them? If a parent is the best thing that happened to a child- isn't it the child who can be the best caretaker for the parent?


  1. Truly Commendable. I have no other words. This write up is straight from your heart and it touches the readers heart. Thank you Moitrayee for giving such blogs to us (The readers). Write more more and more. May God be with you always :)

  2. This is how the future is going to be! Good or bad!

    People say No to marriage and NO to kids, because they do not want additional responsibilities. The same applies to parents also. The only problem being they are already alive. So, these old age homes are the solution.

    And really Moi, if you talk to people who run these homes, you will listen horror stories. The people who send their parents to old age homes do not even bother to come and perform their final duties to the parents. There is a NGO in Chennai which is run by a lady, who has performed the last rites for so many old people.

    1. Oh yes, I have heard a few incidents too - painful and disturbing.