05 October, 2008

Care for the aged

It was a usual routine and hectic day at work. Just at the end of the day when we had finished I turned around and had a casual chat with my colleague. I asked him whether he was going out on the evening, or just go home. He replied that he had to go and visit his father who was affected with Alzheimier and lives in an old age care home. He said that he was feeling guilty of not having visited him since few months. This colleague is of middle age and very considerate. Whatever he said further really made me to think very seriously. He said that his father cannot recognise him and it is so pathetic to see his father just giving a look if introduced. What an irony! He narrated that as he visits the home with a cake, pie and fruits, one of the staff will take him to his father and introduce him. His father would just look at him and does not speak anything. He does not have any memory and keeps looking somewhere. Oh.. My god after ‘R’ told me about this, I went home and this was in my mind for the next few days.

Being a weekend I called some relatives back in India and few enquiries about their welfare, and the ageing elders. I was surprised to know that one of my relative is 100 this year and is quite healthy and able to carry on her daily duties. They live in a village. I also heard about few other elders who had a fall, who had a fracture and their regular narrations.

My mom who is in her high 70’s, lives with me. I have to keep telling my kids how active she was in her younger days, and they need to adjust living with her pace. They do understand.

We keep talking about the facilities we have in western world for the elders and the infrastructure in developing countries. Every time I talk about this, I could only think of very old people, who had come to me for help when I lived in Chennai suburbs. There was an old lady who was my neighbour and whenever she could not find an Auto, she used to come and stand in front of our gate and ask me a lift. She was so old and heavy, I used to struggle to give her a lift on my Enfield bullet, since the seats were raised and I was more worried about her safety. She used to hold my shoulders so tight it used to be a hindrance for me to ride my bike. I have experienced the plight of old people if they do not have anybody to take care.

Once I was walking in Mount road, Chennai and saw a very old man trying to get into a crowded bus. The conductor did not even bother and gave the whistle. The old man fell down which I was watching from distance. I rushed to him and held him on my lap and comforted him. Thank god he did not have any injury. I cautioned him to be safe, and travel by a less crowded bus.

There are millions and millions of elders living in such a state in under developed countries. Their kith and kin abandon them, and some keep them just for their pensions or little money. In that way the Governments of developed country need to be praised. There is utmost care and attention for elders. Every place should have a ramp for wheel chair access. We have disabled parking space in super markets. There are care homes which take care of old people. These care homes are sponsored by Government. Some of them are run privately.

Every train and bus has facilities to carry wheel chair people. One day I took my mom in her wheel chair, just to see the care shown in local buses. As soon as the bus driver notices the elder in wheel chair, he get down from his seat and unfolds the stairs which helps in taking them safely inside. Then the same way, before we get down he gets down from his seat and helps in taking them out. The Doctor’s clinics, shopping centres and every other public place have preferences for disabled people. Mobility scooters are familiar ones, in which the elders can sit and keep driving it. It is operated by battery and the pavements facilitate the elders to go freely. I live in a place which consists of lots of elders and it is nice to see them going around in their mobility scooters independently. They can shop as well while driving the mobility scooters into the shops. The supermarkets are built spaciously to help them shop on their own. Nobody think of their disability as a negative thought, and keep moving on their life. The local councils have transport facility. Every day if elders preferred going to the shops they can give a call to this facility, who will send van to such elders house to pick them up and take them around for shopping. It is absolutely free and the elders can make use of it.

Living with an elderly person is not a very easy thing. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages. They become almost kids on getting old. They keep telling the same innumerable times. They have their own habits and want to live the same way. They are reluctant to accept the changes. My mom realises the benefits and care given in this country. If the politicians of the under developed world and developing world consider a little for elders and develop schemes to benefit them it will make wonders for such deserving people.

After all everyone has to become old. It is a different life then. I hope the under developed world keeps this in mind and follows the developed world in this matter.


Kavi said...

In a old culture like ours, we have had the benefit of community living ( in villages et al), joint families etcs where this was well factored in.

With both these institutions breaking down, we have a real problem at hand. Plus, the longevity increasing, we have to address this problem quickly and effectively.

You have raised a poignant question within me and you manage to do this with such ease and clarity that i am often left speechless !

Jeevan said...

This post remember me this old lady I saw near my native home recently, who abandon there children and live individually in her near 80’s moving her daily life by doing some work on her own. Want to blog about her sometime.

It was lovely to know the benefits people in old and disable enjoy in developed countries. The bus drivers care brought speechless, and what u said of govt. to look at our people must consider such comfort and I guess to hope further steps by govt. is improving and to know Delhi have more facilities than other states for wheelchair people.

krystyna said...

Great post!!!
After all everyone has to become old - How true words!

ambi said...

This post remember me my mom's G'ma (kollu paati) i had a nice time and advices when i was doing my UG at madurai.

Another good post from U, thanx. :)

Vinisha said...

It requires a good heart, courage and patience to care for the aged. Although I have courage in most aspects of life, when it comes to giving myself away, I become the most afraid. Probably the reason why I admire the courage with which you can so easily give yourself away to the old man and help him on his feet.

Our lives are getting too fast paced these days. Patience to care for the elderly seems to slow us down. Why does this logical analysis break my heart? Probably because I am one of the millions of humans who have forgotten that nothing else is more important than humanity.

You have given me a lot to mull over. Thank you.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Not a big deal! I have my aged mom living here with me. I am glad in seeing her everyday. Nowadays atleast in the weekends than to have her far in some land. Luckily we are OK, but I know some who live in the same town as their parents and do not bother much. Those people will realise when they turn old.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks for your words. Yes, everyone has to become old. That is reality.

Balaji S Rajan said...


Thanks for visiting. It is nice to know that I have made you to mull over.

Balaji S Rajan said...


I pity that old lady whom you are talking about. There are million of old people like that. Believe me or not, I have come across lots of them begging in some temples. They must have retired and must be living in poverty. Governments do not care about them.

Ravi said...

Balaji Sir, that was so touching. Most of your posts are so inspirational especially the way you extend a helping hand/shoulder to others. And the posts too, they radiate so much niceness that it gives readers like me a very soothing feeling.

Recently I've heard that in Chennai suburbs an apartment was built to be sold only for old couples. The apartment complex has all other facilities like security, ambulance and probably a front office which takes care of the old peoples' needs. This is especially for lonely and old yet affluent people. A good initiative though.

uthira said...

"They become almost kids on getting old. They keep telling the same innumerable times. They have their own habits and want to live the same way"

very nice post. tears rolled on my cheeks.