Human Interests and Social Pursuits

Retirement Homes: Useful, Right Or Painful?

Retirement home: a blessing or a curse?

A retirement home is often called an old age home. Elderly parents who need the support of their children in their old age but whose children leave them in their old age home. In old age, the person needs love and care the most, but unfortunately, some people are deprived of it. There are many reasons for that. The first is the lifestyle of present-day youngsters. With the introduction of many electronic gadgets like computers, mobile phones, video games, and many other such gadgets, the younger generation is slowly moving away from the attachment of family bonding and getting glued to such electronic items, ignoring their elders and staying away separately.

Secondly, once after marriage, men are slowly moving away from their parents for many reasons. But the main reason, which I had seen in many houses, is that the newly married young women in such homes force their husbands to come out of such bonding, called joint family, and want to lead an independent life away from their in-laws. I do not know why they want to avoid their elderly in-laws.

In another incident, which I had witnessed in many houses, the children, say a son and daughter, shared their parents after their marriage. How? They draft an agreement that for one year the daughter would shelter her mother, and during the same period the son would shelter his father. They would both swap their parents next year. What an inhuman way of treating ageing parents! How cruel are children nowadays? After coming to know of these incidents in many houses, tears swell from my eyes. Without wanting to part this way and unable to digest this type of ill-treatment meted out to them by their children, the elderly silently move away straight to old age homes.

Thirdly, even if the newly married couple continues to live in a joint family, a problem arises slowly and steadily, first with small fights between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law over who should have control over the family, which escalates further if sisters-in-law too join the issue. Most of the TV serials are based on this unfortunate scenario, which happens every day in many households. Or it is vice versa; after seeing such TV serials, many families get divided from the joint family system.

Another incident. I once visited an elderly home in a remote village in West Bengal run by one philanthropic-minded individual. There were about 100 aged and deserted men and women. Some are brought by the volunteers of the home from roadside platforms. But many have been deserted by their own children and have taken shelter.

An old age home is designed to create a home for the elderly, but more often than not, due to lack of funds or irrelevant design, old age homes become more like healthcare facilities with poor infrastructure.

But we NRIs and upper middle-class Indians have a different opinion about old age homes.

A relatively new concept in India, retirement homes have existed in the Western world for quite some time now. These are paid services, and the range of luxury will depend on the amount that you are willing to shell out. The retirement homes have dedicated 24×7 nurses who will be available at your beck and call. The houses are designed to be safe and comfortable for the elderly. However, what is more important than the infrastructure of the place is the fact that it is here that one will find the company of people of his or her age. It is an old-age home where one can foster new friendships at an age where it would otherwise be impossible.

Doing Away with the Stigma of Sending Parents or Grandparents to Old Age Homes. The reason why people hesitate to send their near and dear ones to old-age homes is because of the social stigma associated with it. It is important to realise that sending elderly people in your family to such places does not mean that you do not care about them. On the contrary, it goes to establish that you care about their mental health so much that you are ready to keep them away from you. Research has established that instances of depression and mental illness are significantly lower in people who have more social interaction with peers of their age.

Reason why old age homes are the need of the hour. It is important to realise that the familial structure today is very different from what it was a couple of generations ago. The joint-family system has given way to nuclear family life. With both the husband and the wife pursuing their careers and the availability of quality maids, nannies, and daycare facilities for kids, the dependency on older family members has decreased. Striking a work-life balance has gotten so tricky that we barely have any time to give to our elderly family members. Even if we do manage to take out some time for them, we are at a loss for words about the kind of conversations to have with them.

In the last couple of decades, technology has impacted our lives so massively that an inevitable technology divide has been formed. Generations on either side of this line are finding it difficult to communicate with each other. Making your house completely senior-friendly is another challenge. You cannot do away with all uneven surfaces, staircases, smart TVs, and all of that.

In certain parts of the world, finding a 24×7 carer is a challenge in itself. In a nutshell, the best way to care for elderly members of your family would be by giving them a conducive environment where they can live life on their terms. As far as their relationship with you is concerned, most old-age homes have provisions wherein family members can visit residents whenever they please. Indeed, life in a safe and comfortable old age home is the best gift that you can give your elderly family members.

Sarmistha Dey

Sarmistha Dey is an Indian Diaspora staff reporter at WFY, Bahrain bureau. She is an experienced HR and media professional. She is a poet as well as a singer.

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